• Complete Pain Care of MD

How Can Epidural Steroid Injections Help My Back Pain?

Discover How Pain Management Through Epidural Steroid Injections Can Help

For many people in Baltimore, suffering from chronic pain has become a way of life.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly 31 million Americans suffer from back pain at any given time.  This can cause increased disability claims, missed work, expensive medical bills, and severe discomfort if not treated properly.

That’s why enlisting the help of your Baltimore pain management doctor is the key to making your pain disappear so that you can enjoy doing the things you love.

Epidural steroid injections are one of the most popular non-surgical solutions for people suffering from back pain.  They offer extensive pain relief and have the potential to postpone or even prevent back surgery in the future for patients that respond well to treatment.

Today we are going to examine what an epidural steroid injection for back pain is and how they might offer relief.

What Is An Epidural Steroid Injection?

In technical terms, an epidural steroid injection is a minimally invasive procedure that helps to relieve not only back pain, but neck, arm, and even leg pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves.  In addition, people with spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, or herniated discs may receive an epidural injection procedure to help relieve associated pain.

What Does An Epidural Steroid Injection Do?

A steroid injection is a combination of a corticosteroid and anesthetic numbing agents.  Delivered directly into the epidural space of your spine, an epidural steroid injection is designed to do the following:

  1. Reduce inflammation caused by injury or disease

  2. Provide long-term, temporary relief of pain when applied directly to pain points

  3. Flush away proteins that cause swelling pain

  4. Decrease pain enough to perform rehabilitative exercises in hopes of avoiding surgery

  5. Improve spinal condition, especially when used in tandem with physical therapy

Performed by our expert Baltimore pain physicians who are trained in administering lumbar epidural injections, those suffering from lower back, or lumbar, pain have been known to benefit greatly from these procedures.  In fact, patients undergoing epidural injection procedures receive at least some pain relief, mental health clarity, and improved quality of life.  In addition, patients’ reliance on painkillers decrease as a result of epidural steroid injections for back pain.

How Does An Epidural Steroid Injection Work?

Epidural steroid injections are designed to provide you pain relief when experiencing debilitating back pain.  Plus, they can help your pain management specialist better identify the exact source of your pain and help create a more effective long-term treatment plan for you.

The steroid medications within a lumbar steroid injection not only treat present inflammation in the region administered, they help to prevent further inflammation as well.

They do so by hindering your immune response to infection, viruses, bacteria, and injury, all of which result in an increase in white blood cells, as well as inflammation.  Once the inflammation is reduced, your body begins to heal naturally.  This is because pressure is taken off the nerves that are exhibiting pain, and the soft tissue can begin to heal.

Additionally, it is believed that epidural steroid injections promote blood flow through the epidural spaces since they are a fluid being forced directly into a specific area.  This increased blood flow is thought to inhibit pain receptors and flush out inflammatory proteins and chemicals, both of which increase pain.

Do Epidural Injections Hurt?

Aside from the initial administration of the anesthetic (numbing agent) at the start of the epidural injection procedure, you will not feel any pain during an epidural injection procedure.

Keep in mind that lumbar epidural injections are not immediate relief solutions.  After the injection is administered, pain will return approximately 1-2 hours after the numbing agent wears off.  However, after 3-5 days, you should begin to notice the injection setting in and working to relieve you of your pain.

How Long Do Epidural Injections Last?

Epidural injections are typically administered in sets of three, spaced two weeks apart.  From there, it will depend on your individual needs how many treatment sessions you will need in the future.  However, it has been noted that successful steroid injections can provide anywhere from a few days to a months’ worth of pain relief for most patients.

What Are the Side Effects of Epidural Steroid Injections?

Since steroid injections are minimally invasive, there are few risks associated with epidural injection procedures.  However, there are some side effects to be aware of:

  1. Spinal headache

  2. Infection at the site of injection

  3. Allergic reaction

  4. Nerve damage

  5. Weight gain

  6. Water retention

  7. Mood swings or insomnia

  8. Numbness or mild muscle weakness

  9. Elevated blood sugar levels for those with diabetes

Again, though minimally invasive, most medical procedures come with some level of risk.  This is why discussing epidural steroid injection procedures with your Baltimore pain specialist is important before making any kind of final decision regarding medical treatment of back pain.

Who Can Benefit From an Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure?

Anyone with back pain (as well as neck pain, arm pain, or leg pain) can benefit from epidural steroid injections.  However, those with the following conditions will benefit the most:

  1. Spinal Stenosis. This narrowing of the spinal and nerve root canal, which puts pressure on the spine and nerves within the spine, causes a lot of back pain.  Commonly occurring in the lower back region, it is typically attributed to age and wear and tear on the body.

  2. Spondylolysis. This defect or stress fracture affecting the spine’s arch presses on the nerve roots and causes pain.  This cause of lower back pain is commonly found in young athletes that participate in demanding and close contact sports such as gymnastics, football, and weightlifting.

  3. Degenerative Disc. This disease is one of the most common causes of lower back and neck pain.  In short, degenerative disc disease is a result of the loss of cushioning on discs making up the vertebrae. It can also include fragmentation and herniation of the discs, which is usually seen in aging patients.

  4. Sciatica. Pain that follows the length of the sciatic nerve (from the buttocks down the leg) is usually attributed to compressed spinal nerves in the lower back.  It can also be associated with a herniated disc or a bone spur pressing on the nerves of the spine.  Sciatica usually only affects one side of the body.

  5. Herniated Disc. This is when the soft center of a disc in your spine pushes through a crack in the tough exterior of the disc.  These exposures usually irritate nerves and result in pain, numbness, or weakness, mostly in the arm or leg.  In addition, irritation, pain, and swelling can affect the spine causing back pain as well.  While epidural injections are not intended to heal herniated discs, they can help ease the pain as minor herniated discs heal naturally.  On the other hand, serious herniated discs may not respond well to epidural injections, or heal on their own, and may require surgical treatment.

  6. Whiplash.  Though not necessarily affecting the lower back region, whiplash is an injury that occurs in the neck region.  This is when tissues in the spine are damaged due to some forceful movement, such as a car accident.  In this case, an epidural injection in the neck can help with any pain associated with the injury and aid the healing process.

As you can see, there are several instances where an epidural steroid injection may help to relieve pain, allow the natural healing process to progress, and improve the quality of your life.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from regular back pain, consider enlisting the help of your Baltimore pain management specialists, Complete Pain Care, today.  Our pain management specialists are committed to understanding your pain and creating customized treatment plans to meet your individual needs.

Understanding that surgical procedures are often the last thing any patient wants to consider, Complete Pain Care are dedicated to providing you with superior care that is as minimally invasive as possible.  We are exceptional at identifying your exact cause of pain, treating it, and allowing you to continue living a full life.

With advanced technologies and modern procedures in place for diagnosing and treating all underlying causes, you can rest assured that with the help of Complete Pain Care, your back pain will be a thing of the past.

Schedule an appointment today with one of our pain management specialists to see if an epidural steroid injection is the right treatment for you.

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