An epidural steroid injection is the injection of a strong dose of steroid into the epidural space of the spine in order to help provide relief for pain-causing inflammation in this area.
The epidural space is the space from the outside spinal wall to the spinal cord contained within. Inflammation that occurs in this area often occurs secondary to a pinched nerve due to a disc herniation, and may compress one or more of the protruding spinal roots.
What will an Epidural Steroid Injection treat?
An epidural steroid injection is a viable delivery method for pain-relieving medication for patients who need an immediate effect. It is commonly given to patients who are having symptomatic pains from a cervical or lumbar herniated disc, or from spinal stenosis. In either case, nerves may be compressed, potentially causing the patient to suffer from radiculopathy or sciatica. They are are also used in the treatment of arthritic inflammation.
How is an Epidural Steroid Injection performed?
To prepare for the injection, the patient will be placed under local anesthesia, with the option for full sedation available to those who desire it. Patients will be placed prone to provide the San Antonio pain management doctor access to their spine.
The injection needle will be guided into the epidural space with the aid of fluoroscopic imaging. Depending on the requirements of the patient, an epidural steroid injection can be delivered in one of three ways:
The most common method is the caudal injection, which is the largest injection. The medication will be injected directly into the sacrum of the patient, and is used for the delivery of a large amount of medication into the spine. This medication will then move up the spinal canal, and is used in the treatment of multiple nerve root compressions at once (e.g. from spinal stenosis).
The second method is the interlaminar injection and uses a “loss of resistance” method in order to inject medication into the back of the epidural space.This is the method that was originally developed over 50 years ago, and still used today!
The third method used is the transforaminal method, and is used for patients who have a nerve that has been directly compressed. This method places the injection needle directly into the area of compression and provides the strongest way of delivering medication to a pinched nerve. It’s been the newest method of epidural injection offered, and offers excellent results.
How well do Epidural Steroid Injections work?
While a compressed nerve or a spot of pressure on the spine will not always directly cause pain for the patient, the body will react to these with an inflammatory response that results in swelling of the area.
It is this inflammatory swelling that is the root source of pain for many patients, and it is able to be reduced by the steroid component of the medication injected in this treatment. Regardless of the delivery method used, an epidural injection is very effective in providing instant pain relief for the patient and it may be repeated as a series of three every few months.
Dozens of studies of epidural injections have been performed. Overall, studies have shown effectiveness of epidural steroids for sciatica and radiculopathy relief between 75-90% of the time.
What are the risks of an Epidural Steroid Injection?
There is very minimal risk associated with receiving an epidural steroid injection. There is the small chance of infection, bleeding, swelling, or bruising at the site of injection. There is also a small risk of allergic reaction to the medications used within the injection, but this is largely negated through monitoring of the patient following the procedure.
What is the bottom line with Epidural Steroid Injections?
While an epidural injection can be very useful for treating pain symptoms, this is all it can do for a patient. The injection is not capable of treating the underlying cause of symptoms.
Nevertheless, many patients have been able to avoid the need for spinal surgery with epidural injections.
If you or a loved one is suffering from arm or leg pain, it may be due to a pinched nerve. The San Antonio pain management doctors at Premier Pain Consultants have performed thousands of epidural injections for all types of sciatica and radiculopathy.
Most insurance is accepted at the practice along with personal injury and workers compensation claims. Call Premier Pain today for the best back pain doctors San Antonio trusts!
Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling!