FAQ’s on Epidural Steroid Injections
Disc herniation, joint cysts, bone spurs and spinal stenosis can cause narrowing of the spinal canal or a pinched nerve root. It is also possible for inflammation to produce spots of swelling, which can also nerve roots and lead to sciatica. One way to treat this situation is through an Epidural Steroid Injection.
The Epidural Steroid Injection is one of the methods used to treat the inflammation of the spinal canal that is commonly associated with nerve root pinching. It is a mildly invasive procedure and the effect is somewhat temporary for some patients, with effects ranging from several days to months of relief.
Once injected, the pain will usually be reduced immediately and the patient can return to normal levels of physical activity. This procedure is highly advisable for patients with spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, herniated disc, degenerative disc, and sciatica.
How are Epidural Steroid Injections Performed?
Epidural steroid injections are performed as an outpatient, with the Denver pain management doctor using fluoroscopy (real time-x ray) to make sure accuracy is high. Patients may or may not receive sedation prior to the procedure, it’s not mandatory.
Patients are placed on their stomach for the procedure. There are three methods to deliver an ESI. A Caudal injection is directly into the sacral hiatus and works well to deliver steroid medicine to a broad area. This works well when several nerve roots are being pinched.
An Interlaminar injection into the epidural space is the original procedure that was developed back in the 1960’s, and is still performed today. A transforaminal epidural injection is the newest method of the procedure. This involves placing the steroid medication closer to the exact area of the nerve being pinched, and works very well.
What Happens After an Epidural Steroid Injection?
Immediate relief is often provided to the patient due to the numbing agent injected alongside the steroid. This is to provide the patient a window of pain-free activity until the steroid begins to take effect. The injected steroid will start working one to three days after the procedure is conducted. In some cases, patients will still feel some pain due to an inflammation of the injection site, but this is normally a manageable level of pain due to the injected steroid helping combat the inflammation.
Some patients may experience steroid flush, a flushing in the chest and face, as one of the side effects. Together with this flushing, some may experience an increase in temperature or a feeling of warmth in the spine, trouble sleeping, and even anxiety. These side effects are normal, mild, and may last only for a few days. Generally, patients who prefer to undergo this procedure experience tolerable levels of pain following the injection and do well once the medication begins to take full effect.
What will an Epidural Steroid Injection treat and what are the outcomes?
It is important for patients to know that while this injection is quite effective at providing relief for symptomatic pains, it is not a treatment for the cause. It provides a proverbial “band aid” to the sciatica. The injection simply serves to help mask the symptoms; further treatment will be required to assist the patient with the source of the pain.
The outcome with epidural steroid injections overall is that 75% of patients experience good to excellent pain relief. It may take a series of injections one to two weeks apart to obtain the best pain relief. Then the procedures are perfomed as a series of three every few months as needed.
What are the risks of an Epidural Steroid Injection?
There is an incredibly small amount of risk associated with this treatment – less than 1% of patients experience complications – making it a very safe an effective option for patients experiencing pain. There is the standard small chance of infection, bleeding, or swelling at the injection site. There is also a chance of allergic reaction to the agents used. The largest risk associated with this injection is for it to simply not work.
The bottom line with Epidural Steroid Injections
EPI injections can be very effective in providing relief for patients who need it, and are a safe and simple outpatient procedure that can produce immediate effects.
If you or a loved one is in severe pain from sciatica, radiculopathy or spinal stenosis, an epidural steroid injection may relieve your pain and help you avoid spine surgery. Treatment with pain management Denver trusts offers expert comprehensive treatment including injections and medications.
Call Colorado Pain today at (720) 306-9575!