People commonly associate epidural injections with labor – but did you know they can help your back pain?
Epidural steroid injections provide powerful, temporary pain relief in the spine. Doctors inject the steroid into the body’s epidural space, located just outside of the sac that contains your spinal fluid.
If you get an epidural injection, it will stop your nerve roots from swelling. It calms the inflammation, reducing the amount of pain you’ll feel.
You can’t use an epidural to correct an existing condition. If you have a herniated disc, an epidural steroid injection won’t correct the issue. The goal of an epidural is to minimize existing pain.
Don’t be surprised if you need more than one epidural to feel relief. Typically, doctors schedule three epidural injections to provide long-term relief. If you feel adequate relief after the third injection, no further treatment is necessary until your pain returns.
Who Needs a Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection?
Lumbar epidural injections aren’t right for everyone. They’re an effective way to minimize pain but you may have easier options available, depending on your condition and your level of pain.
If your pain level is high, an epidural injection may be right for you – especially if you’re resistant to other treatments.
Lumbar epidural steroid injections are also a good alternative to surgery in many cases. Spine surgery can be daunting and have serious complications. While complications are less likely than most people believe, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious about spine surgery.
Epidural lumbar steroid injections are minimally invasive. Your doctor won’t put you under anesthesia or cut you open. The procedure takes several minutes and once you’re finished, you’ll recover from the minimal trauma quickly.
There are risks when you get an epidural but generally, they’re less severe than complications from spine surgery.
Ultimately, your doctor can tell you if epidural steroid injections are right for you. Your doctor will examine your spine and see if your lumbar vertebrae are slipping out of alignment.
Using x-rays, your doctors can see if you have distortions in your spine, have compressed nerves, or if nerves are exiting the openings (called ‘foramen’) on your spine.
If you have any of these conditions, your doctor may recommend a lumbar epidural steroid injection.
Be aware that temporary pain relief will not substitute for surgery long-term. If you want to fix your condition, you can’t rely on steroids to fix the damage – you need to take more permanent measures.
Lumbar epidural steroid injections can be an effective treatment for compressed nerves in your spine. By minimizing inflammation, they reduce swelling and discomfort. However, they aren’t right for everyone and it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best treatments for you. He or she may recommend surgery, prescriptions, or steroidal injections depending on your condition.
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