FAQ’s on Epidural Steroid Injections
What is an Epidural Steroid Injection?
Epidural steroid injections are performed as a method of pain relief for patients who have one or more pinched spinal nerve roots resulting in symptoms of pain. This is a rather simple outpatient procedure that can provide a large amount of relief to the epidural region of the spine. This region is the empty space surrounding between the spinal canal and the spinal cord, and contains the prominent portions of the spinal nerve roots.
The epidural space is one of the most common areas for a spinal nerve root to become pinched or constricted due to a variety of reasons. An epidural steroid injection into this area can be a effective asset to patients seeking pain relief.
What will an Epidural Steroid Injection treat?
This injection is used commonly for patients who have one or more herniated discs resulting in either a pinched spinal nerve, radiculopathy (neck pain), or sciatica (leg pain). There are a number of reasons a nerve root in the epidural space can become pinched including spinal stenosis, injury, and arthritic inflammation. It is also possible for the patient to be experiencing pain symptoms due to a torn disc in this space as the result of degenerative disc disease.
How is an Epidural Steroid Injection performed?
The patient is placed under local anesthesia for this procedure, which is a quick outpatient technique. Patients may be able to request full sedation from some clinics. The patient is placed prone to allow injection into the spine, and the needle will be guided into the correct area through the use of fluoroscopic imaging (a series of X-rays taken of the patient to create a real-time image of the needle within the area).
There are three different approaches to the insertion of the needle, with the requirements of the patient governing which will be used.
Caudal Injection: This is the largest of the three injections and is performed via injection directly into the sacrum (the end of the spine). The large amount of medication delivered through this injection is allowed to travel up the spine naturally, and is most often used as the choice when there are multiple roots requiring treatment.
Interlaminar Injection: This uses a loss of resistance technique to gain entry into the epidural space. So
Transforaminal: This method is used most often for directly compressed nerves, and is the placement of the needle directly into the passageway containing the nerve. This allows for the direct delivery of medication to the afflicted nerve.
Once the needle has been guided into the correct spot, a numbing agent and a steroid will be injected into the epidural space. Ideally, the numbing agent will wear off for the patient within 24 hours with the full effects of the steroid seen by the third day. Patients can reliably expect several months of pain relief from a successful epidural injection.
How well do Epidural Steroid Injections work?
While the direct compression of a nerve will not always cause pain for a patient, the body will react to this compression with an inflammatory response. This inflammation is normally the source of pain associated with a compressed nerve, and is given relief through the steroid medication injected into the epidural space. Regardless of which approached is used, the procedure is a very effective tool in providing relief for symptomatic pains, with effects occurring almost immediately following the injection.
What are the risks of an Epidural Steroid Injection?
The risks of this injection have a very small chance of occurring (less than 1%) but can be very severe. There is a small chance of an allergic reaction occurring, often negated through the monitoring of the patient in the hours following their injection. The largest risk faced by the patient is for the injection to be unsuccessful in providing pain relief.
What is the bottom line with Epidural Steroid Injections?
The bottom line is that this injection is a treatment only for the symptoms of a pinched nerve, and will not fix the root cause of the symptoms. Despite this, the epidural injection is still a very effective means of achieving relief.
If you or a loved one is in severe pain from sciatica, radiculopathy or spinal stenosis, an epidural steroid injection may relieve your pain and help you avoid spine surgery. Treatment with pain management San Diego trusts offers expert comprehensive treatment including injections and medications.
Call the California Pain Network today to get connected at (619) 500-1573.