If you are suffering from chronic pain that has not responded well to oral medications, there are a number of other options available to curb pain and help with healing. Epidural steroids can be helpful for a number of conditions.
What Are Epidural Steroids?
When people hear the word "epidural" they usually associate it with the painkiller injections that are sometimes given to women during childbirth; However, injections of steroids can also provide relief from chronic back pain.
The epidural layer is the layer around your spinal cord. Injections in this layer can significantly reduce inflammation and pain.
What Conditions Can Epidural Steroids Be Used For?
Epidural injections can be used to treat a wide range of back and neck pain. Common conditions treated with epidural steroids include:
- Failed back surgery syndrome. When inadvertent nerve damage or other issues occur after surgery, epidural steroids can help relieve pain.
- Cervical radiculopathy. This is a condition where a nerve in the neck area is damaged. It is associated with pain that radiates along the arm.
- Lumbar radiculopathy. This is similar to the condition above, but since it happens lower in the spine it is associated with radiating leg pain. This is also called sciatica.
- Degenerative disc disease. In some individuals, the discs in the spine can degrade over time. Degeneration can occur in any part of the spine. Pain from degenerative disc disease may spread to other areas.
- Spondylolisthesis. This degeneration of the joints between the vertebrae can progress over time. When it leads to compression of nerve roots, pain can result.
- Spinal stenosis. This condition involves a narrowing of the vertebrae that can cause painful pressure on spinal nerves.
- Whiplash. This is a very common type of neck pain that is often the result of a motor vehicle accident. In some cases, it leads to chronic pain.
How Does an Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure Work?
You will lie on your belly during the procedure to give your doctor access to your back. The steroids are injected into the epidural layer of the spine in the area that is currently affected by a painful condition. Because of negative pressure in the space around the spine, the medication stays in the area of the injection to provide pain relief.
Steroid injections can be performed at any part of the spine. Common injection points include:
- The cervical spine - Your neck is composed of the top seven vertebrae of your spine.
- The lumbar spine - These vertebrae are associated with lower back and leg pain.
- Transforaminal injections - In some cases, painful symptoms are only experienced on one side. This often involves pain that radiates down one leg or one arm. Injections can be targeted to one side to provide relief.
Each injection will usually provide two to three weeks of relief. In cases of acute injuries like whiplash, this can be enough time for the body to begin healing itself. With chronic conditions, multiple injections may be needed to provide more long term relief.
What Is Recovery Like?
Recovery from an epidural steroid injection is usually quick and uncomplicated. You may experience pain and swelling at the injection site for a day or two after the injection. Applying ice to the site for 15 to 20 minutes at a time can relieve any pain.
Some people may experience reduced sensation in an extremity that was affected by pain. This will usually resolve within around eight hours.
Request a Consultation
We believe that you do not have to live in pain. At Gulf Coast Pain Institute, we use a range of treatment options to manage your pain effectively. Are you suffering from chronic pain? Get in touch today. We can assess the source of your pain and develop a treatment plan that works for you.