What are epidural injections?
Epidural injections commonly referred to as ESIs — for epidural steroid injections — can treat common back conditions like spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, or disc herniation. During the procedure, your practitioner places a hollow needle into the space between your spinal nerves and bones to deliver anti-inflammatory medicine.
The injection doesn’t cure your back pain, but it helps alleviate your symptoms, including inflammation. After the injection, you may be able to participate in therapy and home exercises, which can further help to improve your back condition.
Who may benefit?
Epidural injections can address a variety of painful conditions in your lower back. Our team sits down with you to discuss your past treatment, review your medical history, and create a treatment plan that works best for you.
Here are a few of the conditions that epidural injections can help:
Lumbar disc herniation
This condition is commonly called a slipped disc. Your spine is made up of many bones, and you have discs between the bones to keep them from rubbing against one another. The discs are soft and rubbery inside and surrounded by a tougher substance on the outside.
When a disc herniates or slips, the softer center pushes out through a tear in the tougher outer portion. This slipping of the soft part of the disc can cause pain, weakness, or numbness on one side of your body and down your leg. Sometimes, you may have a herniated disc and have no symptoms.
Lumbar spinal stenosis
“Stenosis” means abnormal narrowing. Spinal stenosis means you have a narrowing of the space in between your spinal nerves and the bones of your spine. You may have been born with this condition, but it’s most often due to normal aging.
Spinal stenosis can cause pain and symptoms of sciatica — weakness in the lower back and legs, tingling and numbness that can start in your low back and travel to your buttocks and legs. This pain can worsen with activity.
The outside of spinal discs is made up of ligaments that overlap, known as annulus fibrosus. This tough exterior protects the softer inside part of the disc, but it also allows you to move, twist, and bend without injuring the disc. If the annulus fibrosus weakens, it can tear, which causes pain in your lower back.
Degenerative disc disease
A common reason for lower back pain is degenerative disc disease. This condition is caused by normal wear and tear on the discs in your spine. It can cause shooting pain, numbness, and weakness in your legs. You may feel a constant low ache or pain with this back problem but also have episodes of severe, shooting pain.
Who should not get an epidural injection?
Specific treatments are not appropriate in every case. Some of the reasons that would keep you from having a steroid epidural injection include:
- Infections: local or throughout your body
- Bleeding: conditions such as hemophilia or if you are taking blood thinners that can’t be stopped for the procedure
- Pregnancy: if fluoroscopy (X-ray) is used to aid in administering the injection
If you are ready to talk to one of our Chandler Pain Management doctors about epidural injections and other treatment options for your low back pain, call or click for an appointment at one of our four convenient locations.