Most Americans can expect to experience a bout of back pain at some point in their life. 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.
Interventional Pain Doctors, with locations in Beverly Hills, Torrance, Los Angeles, Westlake Village, and Long Beach, California, provide 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.
Following are the conditions that may respond well to epidural steroid injections:
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve root canal, which can cause back and leg pain, especially when walking.
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.
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.
A degenerative disc comes from aging or deterioration of an intervertebral disc, which can lead to collapse of the disc space.
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:
Our Interventional Pain Doctor may suggest the timing is right for an epidural steroid injection when:
- Your pain limits your participation in therapies designed to improve your underlying condition
- You’d like to postpone back surgery
- You have tried other conservative treatment for six weeks without relief
- You experience pain traveling into your arms, legs, or shoulders
Schedule a visit today for further evaluation and discussion regarding the use of epidural steroid injections for your back pain.