Myths and Facts About Epidural Steroid Injections

Jan 19, 2023
Epidural Steroid Injections
Certain types of chronic pain respond well to epidural steroid injections. If you’re exploring options for pain relief, find out if you’re a good candidate for this minimally-invasive option.

Finding an effective solution for chronic pain requires patience, some trial and error, and partnering with a pain management expert. Chronic pain affects more than 50 million U.S adults, and it has a major impact on quality of life. 

Our board-certified team of pain management experts at Apex Pain Specialists understands how much persistent pain impacts how you feel and function. We work closely with patients to find solutions to improve your pain so that you can enjoy life more. Epidural steroid injections are a treatment option we consider when assessing your pain. 

Rest assured that our team explores all appropriate options to get you adequate relief from chronic pain. In this post, we discuss some facts and dispel some myths about this treatment approach.

MYTH: Epidurals for pain are the same as for pregnancy

You may be familiar with the term epidural because some women receive them to help manage pain during childbirth. However, these epidurals aren’t the same as those used with back pain.

In fact, the process of administering these two treatments is fairly similar — a provider injects medication into the space surrounding your spinal cord. However, the medications themselves vary significantly. Yes, they both include powerful pain relievers. However, epidural injections for neck or back pain also contain a corticosteroid to decrease inflammation. 

Plus, epidural steroid injections used for neck or back pain usually require digital x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy machine) to ensure precise placement of the epidural needle.

MYTH: Epidural steroid injections are invasive

You may be concerned that an epidural steroid injection is invasive or painful. In fact, an epidural steroid injection is a minimally invasive treatment that doesn’t require any incisions. This treatment does, however, entail needles. Local anesthetic (i.e. lidocaine administered right before the injection) results in a painless injection.

When you have an epidural steroid injection, you lie down and your provider uses a moving x-ray machine (fluoroscopy) to determine the best location for the epidural needle and then injects the appropriate corticosteroid and local anesthetic.

Your provider inserts the epidural needle and guides it into position after administering the numbing medicine. Finally, they inject the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs into the epidural area.

FACT: Epidurals steroid injections aren’t a permanent cure

Yes, epidural steroid injections are a powerful tool for relieving neck or back pain and radiculopathy. However, this treatment approach isn’t a cure, and these injections don’t work for everyone. 

Instead, this therapy focuses on delivering medications directly to the spinal nerves causing your symptoms. This is beneficial for patients with bone spurs, herniated discs, and pain after back surgery. 

For some patients epidural steroid injections can provide temporary pain relief, while others experience very long-lasting relief. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that have the potential to result in significant pain relief and the local anesthetics in the epidural provide immediate relief. However, these results vary from person to person.

Epidural steroid injections are very effective in providing relief from certain types of pain. Our goal is to help you restore your life. Our team tailors pain management approaches to each individual patient. To have your pain assessed, schedule a visit with an Apex Pain Specialists provider by calling or submitting your booking request here on our website.