What is an epidural steroid injection?
What we refer to as an epidural steroid injection is actually a combination of a local anesthetic and a corticosteroid which are offered as pain relief medication. On their part, corticosteroids are normally anti-inflammatory medicines that are very strong. One of the reasons why this combination of medicines is normally administered is because of the fact that they go a long way in providing relief from inflammation or swelling in the nerves and the soft tissue around the nerves. As a result, this will help in pain relief.
The local anesthetic that is administered on the other hand provides pain relief almost instantly, though the effect of the corticosteroids on the other hand take a longer time.
How does the procedure work?
When an epidural steroid injection is being administered, the injection is done within the space surrounding the nerve roots and the spinal cord, which is referred to as the epidural space. There are times when this procedure is applied in the treatment of inflammation and pain from spinal nerve roots especially when they are put under a lot of pressure.
ESI for sciatica
These injections are a good alternative for low back pains. They also come in handy for non-surgical management of low back pain and sciatica. The concept here is to provide pain relief, but when used together with a comprehensive rehab program, the results are much better.
ESI for herniated discs
ESI can also be used to relieve pain as a result of disc herniation, spondylolysis and spinal stenosis. The medicine will be delivered through the epidural space to the spinal nerve. Its effects in this case will be temporary. Take note that this injection does not make the herniated discs any smaller, because it only acts on the nerves.
How does the doctor determine what I need?
There are certain tests that the doctor will carry out before recommending epidural steroid injection. In most cases only image tests are necessary, such as CT scan or an MRI, before the injection is administered to you.
The role of running these tests is to make sure that the doctor is able to tell the exact position in the body where the nerve roots are pressurized. After that has been done, you can then get the injection.
In order to make sure that the injection is done in the right place, the doctor will use a fluoroscope (an x-ray machine) to help in guiding them on where to place the needle.
How effective is it?
In most cases, lumbar spinal stenosis will cause you a lot of pain, which normally comes from the lower spinal area down to your legs, or at times just localized around the hip area. Take note that the epidural steroid injection is often administered preferably for leg pain and not back pain as a result of lumbar spinal stenosis.
Before you settle on this procedure with your doctor, make sure that you review your medical history together, and assess any possible side effects.