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When Epidural Injections are the Correct Solution for Your Chronic Back Pain

Most Americans can expect to experience a bout of back pain at some point. For many individuals, however, back pain can become a chronic (long-term) issue.

When it lasts longer than a few weeks, your discomfort can seriously impact your overall well-being and interfere with your ability to accomplish daily activities. Ongoing pain can also make it difficult to undergo treatments designed to relieve your symptoms, such as physical therapy.

Pain expert Daniel Loder, MD, with locations in Beverly Hills, Torrance, and Manhattan Beach, California, provides a wide variety of therapies to relieve your pain and restore your mobility, including epidural steroid injections. These injections might, in fact, offer the best solution for pain that travels from your back to your legs, arms, or shoulders.

How it works

An epidural injection involves placing a needle next to the nerve and herniated disc under image guidance to allow inflammatory substances that have been extruded out of the disc to be rinsed and diluted off of the injured nerve. Medications used include sterile saline, lidocaine (a temporary nerve-blocking agent), and an anti-inflammatory.

Epidurals work by reducing inflammation of the injured nerve by two factors. First, the solution cleans, rinses, and dilutes the inflammatory substances that have come in contact with the nerve from the disc. Second, the anti-inflammatory placed at the site of the injury further reduces inflammation.

An epidural typically includes an anesthetic or numbing agent that provides very temporary pain relief. The major factor in the injection is the steroid, which reduces inflammation and decreases or eliminates neck, back, arm, and leg pain caused by compressed or inflamed spinal nerves.

The injection is delivered into the epidural space, which is a fat-filled area that lies between the spine and the protective membrane covering your spinal nerves. Pain relief typically lasts about three months, but many patients experience longer-lasting results.

The injections will not heal underlying conditions that are causing the nerve irritation, such as a herniated or deteriorated disc. Rather, they reduce the inflammation that’s affecting the nerve and causing your pain.

Conditions that might respond to epidural steroid injections

Certain conditions that can irritate the nerves running through your spinal canal and nerve root canal that may respond to epidural steroid injections include:

Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve root canal, which can cause back and leg pain, especially when walking.

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a weakness or fracture between the upper and lower facet joints of a vertebra that may cause it to slip forward and compress nerve roots, which causes pain.

Herniated disc

A herniated disc causes pain when the gel-like material contained within an intervertebral disc bulges or ruptures through a weak area in the disc wall and presses against a spinal nerve.

Degenerative disc

A degenerative disc comes from aging or deterioration of an intervertebral disc, which can lead to collapse of the disc space.

Sciatica

Sciatica is caused by pain that travels along the sciatic nerve in the buttocks and down the legs, usually related to compression of the fifth lumbar or first sacral spinal nerve.

The right time for an epidural steroid injection

Dr. Loder may suggest the timing is right for an epidural steroid injection when:

Schedule a visit today with Dr. Loder for further evaluation and discussion regarding the use of epidural steroid injections for your back pain. Call the office, send us a message here on our website, or use our convenient online booking feature.

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