One of the common treatment options for lower back and leg pain are epidural steroid injections (ESIs). In fact, they’ve been used since 1952 and are, to this day, an essential part of the non-surgical management for conditions such as sciatica and low back pain.
But what exactly is an epidural steroid injection and how does it provide pain relief?
An epidural steroid injection is a minimally invasive procedure aimed at relieving neck, arm, back, and leg pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves such as those affected by spinal stenosis, spondylosis, sciatica, or disc herniation. The injection typically contains both a cortisteroid and an anesthetic numbing agent such as lidocaine or bupivacaine.
These drugs are injected into the epidural area of the spine, which is between the protective covering of the spinal cord and nerves (the dura) and the bony vertebrae. There are two ways to deliver epidural steroid injections: transforaminal (from the side) or interlaminar (from the back). The best method depends on the location and source of pain.
Sometimes this combination is powerful enough to provide complete relief, but usually, an epidural steroid injection is used along with a comprehensive rehabilitation regimen to provide additional benefit. That’s because the effects of an epidural steroid injection are transitory, tending to last anywhere from only one week to up to one year. This reduced inflammation and pain can often provide enough time to recover and strengthen the injured area.
Nevertheless, an epidural steroid injection can be highly beneficial to a patient suffering from an acute spell of back and/or leg pain, providing sufficient relief and allowing the patient’s condition to improve with a rehabilitative physical therapy. If the first injection proves to be effective, the patient can have as many as three in a one-year period – but one might be all they need.
Besides providing relief to the lumbar (lower back) region, ESIs can be used to quell cervical (neck) pain and the midthoracic (spine) region.
What an epidural steroid injection can do for you
While epidural steroid injections are not a long-term or permanent solution to your pain – especially lower back pain – their short-term benefits are well documented. In fact, most studies report that more than 50 percent of patients experience significant pain relief with ESIs when they are performed by professionals who use fluoroscopy or X-rays to properly verify the precise placement of the medication.
Unlike oral steroids and painkillers which have a dispersed and, therefore, less-focused impact – not to mention unwelcome side effects – an epidural steroid injection delivers its medication directly to the source of your pain.
Also, because most of your pain is caused by chemical inflammation, an epidural steroid injection acts to help manage the local inflammatory response while, in addition, expelling inflammatory proteins and chemicals that may be adding to the pain from the affected area.
If you live in the Plano, Texas area, Tarpon Orthopedics can help you regain the ability to move pain-free. We are experts in sports medicine, spine, and pain management, as well as joint replacement. Call 9725961059 for a consultation today in our West Plano, North Plano, or Addison, Texas locations, or request an appointment online.