Understanding the Different Types of Epidural Steroid Injections

Back pain can strike anywhere on your spine, but no matter where it emerges, it’s never welcome. Your quality of life plummets even more if the back pain you experience is severe or prolonged. There is an unequivocal link between chronic pain and depression, so back issues can be a drag on your emotional health as well. 

The caring team at Advanced Spine and PainDr. Brian Lee, Dr. Alfred Correa, Dr. Randy Davis, and practice founder Dr. Thomas Raley — are laser focused on addressing your pain and employ an expansive menu of treatments to achieve relief for you.  

An innovative, lasting treatment option for back pain

Unfortunately, pain medication and physical therapy don’t do the trick for certain patients who suffer from back pain as a result of injury or degenerative conditions. 

The good news is that the Advanced Spine and Pain team has a weapon in their pain-fighting arsenal that combats the type of stubborn back pain that can really derail your life. 

An epidural steroid injection is a safe, and minimally invasive treatment option that brings relief to many of our patients for whom other treatments simply haven’t worked. 

The injection procedure is comfortable and quick. We numb your injection site with a local anesthetic, and depending on your symptoms, you receive a single injection or a series. After about half-an-hour of observation, you return home and treat any minor tenderness with an ice pack. 

Why are epidural steroid injections effective?

Epidural steroid injections work because they deliver pain relief agents directly to the source of your back pain. The injection is directed at your spine’s epidural space, which goes down your entire spine and surrounds dura, the outer membrane that protects your spinal cord. Aside from fat, arteries, and veins, it contains many nerves. 

Depending on the site of your pain, you can get an epidural steroid injection in the cervical spinal area near your neck, the mid-spine known as the thoracic spine, or the sacrum, which is a triangular bone that sits between your hips. 

The medication in the shots consists of a mixture of a local anesthetic and steroids that lower inflammation.

Because the injection helps control how your body reacts to pain caused by spine problems, your nerves get a break from the pressure that inflammation causes. The medication in the shot travels to your nerve endings and essentially instructs your body’s pain messaging system to mellow out. 

After your immune system calms down, it manufactures fewer inflammatory cells, and you feel relief.  

The epidural steroid injection you receive depends on where your pain is

There are several types of epidural steroid injections, and our team decides which one to use based on, as they say in real estate, location, location, location — of your pain, that is:

Caudal epidural steroid injections 

These are given at the base of your spine in your sacral area.

Transforaminal epidural spine injections 

These are aimed at an opening on the side of your spine called the foramen. This injection method enables us to apply the medication very near the root of your nerve.

Interlaminar epidural spine injections 

These can be given at any location along your spine, and, as its name suggests, the needle is placed between your lamina (the back part of your vertebrae that serves as your spinal canal’s “roof”).

Epidural steroid injections are a great example of targeted treatment, meaning we can truly customize your treatment. Epidural steroid injections are made to order for your specific source of back pain. 

Epidural steroid injections are versatile

We know we just said that epidural steroid injections are targeted treatments, but at the same time they’re versatile because they’re appropriate for many conditions, including spinal stenosis, sciatica, leg pain, and herniated discs, as well as conditions like degenerative disc disease. By giving your pain a break, your back gets a chance to heal. Injections also complement  treatments like physical therapy. 

Remember, with this treatment, it’s not uncommon for the pain to get worse before it gets better, so don’t be alarmed if that happens. In 2-4 days, you should feel real relief that lasts for a few months. 

Call the Advanced Spine and Pain office nearest you to discuss whether epidural steroid injections might be right for you, or book an appointment with us through our website.

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