Relief for Neck and Back Pain
Epidurals are a commonly used treatment for chronic pain. Epidural steroid injections (ESIs), as the treatment is known, are used to treat a variety of conditions. In most cases, injections are used when patients describe radicular pain, or pain that radiates along an irritated nerve in the spine or neck. ESIs are frequently used on patients suffering from:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS)
- Radiculitis and Radiculopathy (nerve pain)
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated discs (slipped discs)
Understanding the Epidural Procedure
Epidurals involve the injection of medication into the epidural space, the outmost part of the spinal canal, where irritated nerve roots are located. Injections are composed of a long-lasting steroid, such as cortisone, and a local anesthetic, which work to reduce inflammation and irritation and interrupt pain-spasm cycles and pain signals. Injections will also spread along other portions of the spine, reducing inflammation, irritation, and pain in affected areas. In total, the epidural procedure typically takes less than 15 minutes.
Types of Epidurals
There are various types of epidural injections that are administered depending on a variety of factors, including the underlying cause of your pain, where the injection is made, and the amount of nerve roots treated. The most commonly used epidural steroid injections include:
LUMBAR TRANSFORAMINAL EPIDURAL STEROID INJECTION
This outpatient procedure is an injection of a steroid-anesthetic medication. The medication can reduce swelling and inflammation of irritated spinal nerves. This procedure is performed to relieve pain in the lower back and pain that radiates from the back to the legs. The injection takes only a few minutes to complete.
CERVICAL TRANSFORAMINAL EPIDURAL STEROID INJECTION
This injection procedure is performed to relieve neck, shoulder and arm pain related to compression of a nerve root in the cervical spine. Conditions such as herniated discs and spinal stenosis can compress nerves, causing inflammation and pain. The medication injected helps decrease the swelling of nerves.
CAUDAL EPIDURAL STEROID INJECTION
This outpatient procedure is an injection of a steroid-anesthetic medication through an opening in the sacrum. The medication can reduce swelling and inflammation of irritated spinal nerves. The injection takes only a few minutes to complete.
Epidurals and Pain Relief
Epidural steroid injections provide patients with immediate relief of pain and can allow them to improve their physical mobility. Patients are frequently able to stand and walk with less discomfort and many report an increase in their quality of life, which can come as a result of their increased ability to navigate daily activities. Epidural steroid injections can also be a viable, safe, and effective alternative to invasive surgical procedures.
While rapid pain relief is the most pronounced and greatest benefit of epidurals, the amount of relief and the duration of relief will always vary from person to person.