When Should You Consider Epidural Steroid Injections?

Whether you realize it or not, epidurals aren’t just used to ease pain for women about to give birth. These injections can also provide short-term pain relief for certain types of back pain. 

If you are living with severe back pain, the expert providers at the International Spine Pain and Performance Center in the Washington D.C. area may be able to use epidural steroid injections to give you relief from the pain. 

Here are a few factors to consider when you’re deciding whether epidural steroid injections are right for you.

What are epidural steroid injections?

Epidural steroid injections deliver a strong anti-inflammatory medication directly into your spine in order to combat back pain. 

The epidural space is located between the membrane and the dural wall in your spinal cord. When corticosteroids are injected into this space, they can provide immediate pain relief as well as longer-lasting relief from inflammation. A saline solution in the injection also washes out your spinal column to get rid of proteins that contribute to the painful inflammation.

This inflammation and swelling is painful because it puts pressure on some of your nerves and nerve roots. The goal of using steroids is to reduce inflammation and swelling, thus reducing the pain. The steroids cannot fix the underlying problems in your back, but they can provide relief from the pain you may be experiencing and give you time to treat the injury with other therapies.

Who should get epidural steroid injections?

These injections do not provide relief for every kind of back pain. If you have general lower back pain or pain that does not travel down your leg, it might not be right for you. 

If, however, your pain does travel down your leg and you have been dealing with it for over six weeks, you may be a good candidate. Conditions that can cause this kind of pain include:

What should you expect from epidural steroid injections?

The relief from epidural steroid injections isn’t permanent. Every patient is different, but in most cases, the relief can last up to three months. Getting the shot may or may not give you enough time to allow your back to heal; it may also enable you to postpone or avoid surgery. It likely won’t improve your long-term daily diagnosis, however.

Most patients say they experience almost immediate pain relief after having the procedure. The most common side effect is a headache that can last for a few days but then clears up. As with any injection, fever, pain, and infection are also possibilities. 

Doctors usually try to limit the injections to a few times a year because the steroids could weaken your spine and muscles if they are used too much.

If you have back pain that travels down your leg and has not responded well to other treatments, you may be a good candidate for an epidural steroid injection. 

Dr. Mehul Desal and Dr. Puneet Sayal can provide you with a comprehensive exam to determine your best option for treatment. Contact one of our offices conveniently located in the Washington D.C. and Arlington, Virginia, area today for a consultation!

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