Lower back pain can be a significant problem for many patients. A common way to get relief from this pain is through spinal injections. Spinal injections can be used to both detect and treat the source of pain. One of the spinal injections used to treat back pain is the epidural block.
Between the bony structure of the spine and the spinal cord is the epidural space. This space makes room for nerves to run up and down the length of the spine. When the nerve roots become inflamed, an epidural block can be used to treat the pain. An epidural block is given by injecting anti-inflammatory medicine into the epidural space to soothe the inflamed nerve roots that cause the pain.
After applying a local anesthetic, the physician inserts a needle into the epidural space while using a fluoroscopy to ensure the correct positioning of the needle. A fluoroscopy is a live x-ray image so that the physician can watch the placement of the needle onscreen. Once the needle is correctly in the epidural space, a mixture of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medicine is then injected. The medication will then flow through the area in the epidural space and relieve the inflamed nerve roots.
An epidural block typically relieves back or neck pain. Since relief from the pain will typically decrease over time, a series of epidural blocks may sometimes be needed to ensure the most relief.
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