One of the most common treatments for back pain and some forms of leg pain is an epidural steroid injection. This injection helps to reduce inflammation, improve mobility, and improve adherence to the rest of the treatment plan. In this article, we’ll look at these injections in more detail and explore some of the considerations that come into play when dealing with lower back pain in particular.
How Do Epidural Steroid Injections Work?
The core methodology behind this pain condition treatment in Perrysburg, Ohio is that a local anesthetic and a steroid medication are injected directly into the space that surrounds the spinal cord and various nerve roots. This location is known as the epidural space. The idea is that it affects three different outcomes:
- The injection helps to reduce inflammation around the nerve roots which can provide significant pain reduction and control.
- It also improves mobility and function in the back, allowing for people to return to more normal day-to-day functioning, which in turn helps to repair those affected areas.
- The treatment is considered much more effective than oral opioid medications.
It’s for these reasons that epidural steroid injections have become a much more common option for many forms of pain.
What Does the Process Look Like?
The anesthesiologists at Comprehensive Centers For Pain Management are experts in precise injections. Their training and experience allow them to remove much of the risk associated with any injection done around the spine. Our team is composed of spine specialists, physiatrists, anesthesiologists, radiologists, and neurologists that provide quality pain management in Oregon, Ohio. The injection itself is minimally invasive but can have some mild side effects in certain people, including nausea, headaches, dizziness, or flushing of the face.
The type of steroid used will be specific to the case itself and it can be inserted in one of three different ways:
- Transforaminal Route.
This is when the injection is administered directly into the epidural space to target very specific nerve roots which are responsible for the pain being experienced.
- Interlaminar Route.
Here, the needle is inserted from the back of the spine and that is how the epidural space is reached. This is less precise than the transforaminal route, providing more even coverage as the steroid can spread widely within the epidural space.
- Caudal Route.
This route is the least specific and doesn’t go to any direct place. It is the safest and easiest to perform but its lack of specificity means that the results are not as effective. It’s typically used for widespread or diffused pain.
The right option for you will be determined by a pain doctor in Toledo, Ohio, and it depends on a variety of different factors. However, either way, it is a relatively simple process that tends to deliver consistent results.
What Are the Benefits of These Injections?
Comprehensive Centers For Pain Management’s physicians recognize the benefits of epidural steroid injections. While we’ve alluded to some of these above, it’s worth going through the specific benefits that often come with these sorts of epidural injections:
- Reduces Inflammation.
At the heart of a lot of pain is increased inflammation which causes additional complications within the body. A steroid injection helps to decrease the inflammatory chemicals while also reducing the nerve’s sensibility to pain. This alone makes it a very powerful tool for those who are looking for relief from their suffering.
- Reduces Dependence on Oral Medication.
An injection like this is also useful because it can greatly reduce the volume and frequency of oral medication – some of which cause their own side effects. By getting pain relief from the injection, there is no need to continue with the same dosage of opioids and other pain medication.
- Enables Better Leverage of Physical Therapy.
If the injection can improve general mobility and functioning, it means that you’re going to get better results from physical therapy. This indirect benefit is actually very important because it helps to accelerate recovery and gives the patient the relief they need to go through physical therapy to the best of their abilities.
- Can Remove the Need for Surgery.
In certain instances, the pain relief from the injection can postpone surgery and if the physical therapy goes well, it can eliminate the need for surgery entirely.
These key benefits make for a very powerful treatment methodology that can be administered relatively easily and efficiently. The pain relief is experienced by between 70-90% of patients, making it a viable mass-scale solution for a wide range of problems.
Common Conditions That Call for Epidural Steroid Injections
While there are many different forms of back, neck, and leg pain that can be treated by epidural steroid injections, these are some of the common conditions that are better suited to such a treatment plan:
- Spinal stenosis.
This is when your spinal canal has narrowed, causing the nerves to be irritated and induce pain.
When there is a weakness or fracture in the vertebrae, it can compress nerves, causing pain in the spine.
- Herniated disc.
A herniated disc occurs when the gel within the disc bulges or ruptures. This causes irritation, pain, swelling, and other forms of pain within the spinal nerve.
- Degenerative disc.
When the intervertebral disc collapses in the disc space, it can create tears in the annulus and growth of bone spurs – all of which can cause significant pain.
Typically, compression of the 5th lumbar or the 1st sacral spinal nerve can cause pain along the sciatic nerve in the buttocks and down the legs. This is commonly treated with steroid injections to provide the necessary relief.
As you can see, epidural steroid injections are a highly valuable and useful form of pain relief when other methods have not worked. If you feel like you might need to make use of such a treatment, it’s recommended that you schedule a consultation with a medical provider from Comprehensive Centers For Pain Management to learn if this methodology is right for you.