Epidural Injections for Back Pain Relief: What to Expect

Back pain can be crippling and robs many of every day basic function. There are numerous causes for lower back pain and treatment can take many forms.

Epidural injections in the spine have been around for decades, and today is a common practice for those seeking a non-surgical approach for pain management.

For anyone who has been considering this option but had questions about the procedure, below is a quick guide on what to expect.

Epidural Injections

 

What Conditions Benefit From Epidural Injections

Back injury can result from an accident, muscle strain, overexertion, poor posture, aging, and even genetics.

Degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and sciatica pain are just a few examples of conditions that could benefit from epidural spinal injections. It is also helpful with those who are attempting physical therapy and need immediate pain relief to continue.

This procedure is not a good option for those who have problems with bleeding or an infection. There is also the possibility of slightly high blood glucose levels, blood pressure, or eye pressure. Those with diabetes or glaucoma should discuss all risk factors with their doctor.

 

What Exactly is an Epidural Injection?

An epidural injection is a shot that sends steroids directly in the spine at the epidural space. This is an area between the vertebra and the sac that holds the spinal nerves.

The drugs provide an anti-inflammatory agent and also a numbing medicine to help with the pain. The duration of the pain relief varies depending on the severity, cause, and location. It can last from a few days up to even a few years.

The exact combination of medicine is from the patient’s condition and the doctor’s examination.

 

Getting Ready

This is an out-patient procedure. On the day of the appointment, the patient will need someone to bring them to the doctor’s office and then drive them home.

The doctor’s office will request a list of all medications, any allergies, and a signed consent form.

The patient will then go to an x-ray room where the process will begin and will remain awake the entire time.

 

The Procedure

The patient will lie on their abdomen on the x-ray table. Application of a local anesthetic then happens to keep pain to a minimum.

Using the x-ray machine to locate the best spot for the injection of the medication, the doctor will insert the empty needle into the epidural space.

Once the surgeon reaches the correct spot, the medicines are move through the needle and removal is complete. Depending on the condition and location, multiple injections could happen.

The procedure can last from 15-45 minutes. In addition, there is also a recovery period where the patient is monitored for about fifteen minutes. Most people can get up and walk around right afterward without difficulty and regular activities can resume the next day.

 

The Follow Up

The doctor will want the pain levels to be monitored for a few weeks to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.

A follow-up appointment will be needed to document the progress and decide on the next step of treatment. Starting, or continuing, physical therapy should also be discussed at this time.

 

The Choice

Having epidural injections is just one treatment option for severe lower back pain. A comprehensive examination and consultation should be done to make sure it is the best choice for you.

For more information on how this procedure could work for you, feel free to reach out and see how we can help!

Florida Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Anthony P. Moreno received his Bachelor’s and Medical degrees from the University of Florida, where he graduated with honors. After that, he completed his orthopedic residency at Jackson Memorial Medical Center/University of Miami. Dr. Moreno has also completed a Spine Surgery Fellowship at Hahnemann/Penn. As a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon, Dr. Moreno is also a member of the American College of Spine Surgery and speaker. For instance, he has done many presentations around the world on spinal surgical techniques. His knowledge and expertise can help with any of the most complex spinal cases. Read more about Dr. Moreno’s education, certification and credentials here.