Chronic lower back and leg pain can be debilitating, keeping you from the activities you enjoy with people you love. But you don’t have to struggle with this forever.
Your doctor can diagnose the underlying cause of your pain or refer you to a specialist who can offer the latest technology and techniques for diagnosing and treating chronic discomfort.
If your pain isn’t responding to conventional treatments, you’re hoping to regain mobility for physical therapy, or you want to minimize your use of pain medications, an epidural steroid injection may be best for you.
Read on to learn what an epidural steroid injection is, how it works, and if you’re an ideal candidate for the procedure.
What is an epidural steroid injection?
Epidural steroid injections provide patients relief from chronic pain from injury or sciatica in their legs or lower back. A doctor injects a steroid (a small dose of anti-inflammatory medication) into the spine between the vertebrae and the space surrounding the spinal cord and nerves.
Temporarily easing pain with this injection allows patients to experience the mobility necessary to start physical therapy. This means you’re finally treating the source of pain and on your way to a long-term solution.
How does an epidural steroid injection work?
This is an outpatient procedure using local anesthetic. The patient lies face down on a table, and a pain specialist injects medication into the space near the spine in your lower back. The procedure only takes 10 to 30 minutes.
For some patients, relief begins immediately after the injection. For others, there is a slight recurrence of the pain they’d been experiencing before the medication takes effect.
Pain reduction from an epidural steroid injection may be short-term, lasting from one week to one year. However, once you have more mobility again, you can start physical therapy, which will help you work toward long-term relief.
Does an epidural steroid injection hurt?
While the experience is slightly different for everyone, most patients do not experience any pain during or after the injection. With the help of the local anesthetic, some patients feel nothing at all before finding relief after the procedure.
Common sensations during an epidural steroid injection include:
- Tingling or pressure at the injection site
- Mild discomfort as the medication enters the epidural space
- Temporary pins and needles in your limbs
Are there risks or side effects?
This is a common, understandable question from all patients. Risks of an epidural steroid injection are minimal. Most patients experience relief with no problems.
As with any procedure of this type, it’s possible that a patient could experience side effects, including:
- Infection at the injection site
- Bleeding at the injection site
- Headache related to spinal procedures
- Temporary leg numbness or weakness
Your pain specialist will walk you through all possible risks and side effects so you can prevent them or address any issues that arise.
Who is a candidate for an epidural steroid injection?
Those experiencing lower back and leg pain should talk to a doctor about possible options, especially if your chronic pain has not responded to prior treatments.
An epidural steroid injection is ideal for those with conditions such as:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Injured spinal nerves, vertebrae, and tissue
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
If you’re experiencing chronic pain, an epidural steroid injection may be right for you. Talking to an expert can help you determine what procedure may work well for relieving your pain, regaining your mobility, and making physical therapy possible to potentially treat the underlying cause of your discomfort.
Lafayette Pain Care is a pain clinic in Indiana. We’re dedicated to helping our patients find lasting relief from chronic and acute pain so they can return to the activities they love. For more information, please visit our website and like us on Facebook.