If low back pain and leg pain persist, get relief from Epidural Injections.
Patients with low back pain and leg pain that’s not responding to other treatments may benefit from an epidural injection that directly treats the affected area. It is also referred to as epidural steroid injections because of the type of medication that’s often included. It can benefit patients with pain related to:
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How it Works
An epidural injection works by delivering medication that soothes soft tissues. The reduction in swelling means nerve roots are less likely to be irritated, resulting in less discomfort. The injection is so-named because it is placed into the epidural space around nerve roots and the spinal cord. It may be used for diagnostic or therapeutic (pain relief) purposes.
Why it’s Recommended
Before an epidural injection becomes an option, patients are encouraged to try standard pain management treatments first. If no significant relief is experienced with treatments that include hot and cold applications, oral pain and anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and modifying or avoiding activities, an injection may be recommended. The technique may be used to ease discomfort felt in the mid-spine area (thoracic spine) and pain related to a pinched neck nerve that’s sometimes felt in the shoulders and arms (radicular pain).
How it’s Done
Image testing with a CT scan or MRI may be done in advance of receiving an injection to identify the affected nerve root. The injection is administered with a local anesthetic. Additional medication may be given with an IV to help relax a patient. A real time X-ray (fluoroscopy) is used to ensure proper insertion of the needle. If pain relief is experienced when the nerve is injected and becomes numb, it’s assumed the targeted nerve is the one contributing to a patient’s discomfort. Once it’s confirmed that the injected nerve is the one linked to a patient’s pain, a strong anti-inflammatory medication is administered to the affected area. A contrast dye may also be used to observe how the corticosteroid is working within the epidural space.
What Happens After an Epidural Injection
Relief may be immediate since local anesthetics such as lidocaine act quickly. When it wears off, however, some patients report an increase in pain until the steroid medication takes effect. It may take several days for the anti-inflammatory medication to fully work on the nerve or nerve root contributing to the pain. Regular activities can usually be safely and gradually resumed within a few weeks after receiving an epidural injection.
Epidural injections have been a pain management option since the early 1950s. Today, the procedure is widely considered a reliable and safe treatment option for individuals wishing to avoid surgery or enjoy enough of a break from pain to actively participate in their recommended physical therapy routine. While not addressing the underlying source of lower back and leg pain, the injections may provide welcome relief from distracting pain. Epidural injections can be repeated up to three times per year.