What to Expect with an Epidural Injection
ESI is often recommended in combination with a comprehensive rehabilitation program, like physical therapy or home exercise, to help restore strength and core musculature to prevent future pain episodes. The ESI is injected into the lumbar spine through a medical needle. The injection is strategically placed between the protective layers of the spine and bony elements to reduce the risk of harm or injury to you. The ESI medication includes a numbing agent and a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation in the pain site. In patients that benefit from this treatment, pain relief can be felt almost instantaneously.
How Effective Are Steroid Injections?
Epidural steroid injections are effective for about 50% of our patients, depending on the condition, but some may not feel much, or any, effect from ESIs. In these cases, our doctors will evaluate the specific circumstances to determine whether a second attempt is in order. Should a second attempt still fail to provide any relief, our doctor may recommend other treatment options. If you experience partial relief with your first ESI, our doctor may attempt a series of injections over time. Determining a treatment plan is on an individual basis and is dependent upon your unique case, so ESI should always be discussed with Advanced Spine and Pain’s (ASAP) medical professionals to determine whether the treatment is right for you before administering the steroid.
Who Can Benefit from ESIs?
Epidural steroid injections work by controlling local inflammation and inhibiting the inflammatory response. This occurs due to the direct injection at the source if the pain. It has been found to be effective for many patients with the following indications:
- Annular tear
- Compression fractures
- Degenerative disc disease
- Facet joint arthritis
- Leg pain
- Lower back pain
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Sciatica (radicular) pain
ESI is NOT recommended for the following patients: pregnant, present with an infection, may have an allergic reaction to the solution, taking blood thinners, have a bleeding problem or have an uncontrolled medical problem.
Are Epidural Injections Painful?
If ESI treatment is right for you, you will first be given a local anesthetic to numb the area where the steroid will be injected. This inhibits the pain receptors to ensure the ESI is as pain-free as possible.
What Are the Risks Associated with ESI?
When performed properly, the risks of epidural steroid injection are minimal, but risks do include:
- Dural Puncture
- Nerve damage
Are There Any Side Effects of Epidural Injection?
The steroid medication may result in side effects, but these are rare and less than prevalent than those of oral steroids. Side effects may include:
- Facial flushing
- High blood sugar
- Stomach ulcers
Always discuss any questions or concerns you have with a medical professional prior to being administered an ESI to be as informed as possible about your medical treatment.
How Long Do the Effects of an Epidural Last?
Every person is different, but if the ESI is effective for pain relief, you may be able to feel the effects for any length of time from a couple of weeks to several years. While our medical professionals are unable to predict how long the treatment will last for you, many patients have exhibited notable improvements in function and pain reduction relatively quickly.
Is ESI Right for You?
If you are experiencing pain and need relief, contact our team at Advanced Spine and Pain. Our team of highly trained and experienced medical professionals can help you decide whether the treatment is right for you.