Epidural steroid injections offer relief for people who suffer from chronic pain. This minimally invasive procedure can provide relief in many areas of the body. Due to its effectiveness, we perform this procedure on individuals who have not gotten sufficient relief from other pain management treatments.
Pacific Pain & Wellness Group in Torrance specializes in treating chronic pain, which includes epidural injections. Our pain management doctors understand the struggle of living with constant pain every day. Therefore, we offer a variety of treatment options to meet each person’s individual needs.
Don’t suffer for one more day. We can help you enjoy your life and get back to doing what you love. For additional information about epidural injections or any of our other pain management treatment options, contact us today at (310) 437-7399.
Epidural Injection Treatment Areas
Epidural steroid injections can treat pain in the:
It’s important for a pain management doctor to identify the source of your pain to ensure that this treatment is appropriate. If you have inflamed and irritated nerves in the spine, epidural injections can reduce swelling, provide pain relief, and allow your body to heal.
Spinal nerve inflammation can result from spinal stenosis, disc herniation, and osteoarthritis. The anti-inflammatory medications are injected into the epidural space, which is a fat-filled area located in between the vertebrae and protective sac surrounding the spinal cord.
How Long Pain Relief Lasts
Every patient is different. There is a wide range of time periods for which pain relief can last with epidural steroid injections. Some patients report relief of pain for several days or weeks, while others get relief for several months.
Since everyone’s body is different, it’s difficult to predict how long the effects could last for you. However, if you’ve had an epidural injection before and have experienced relief, there is a good chance that you will have the same experience with subsequent injections.
Patients often combine epidural injections with other pain management treatments, such as physical therapy and regular exercise. This can help prolong the positive effects of your injection. Some patients have been able to almost entirely eliminate their pain simply by staying consistent with physical therapy and exercise.
Medicines Used in Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural injections contain corticosteroid medication and an anesthetic numbing agent. Your pain management doctor will determine which medications are best to use for your specific situation.
These medications may include one of the following:
The numbing agent used may be:
The medicines that your doctor chooses will depend on your condition and whether you have metal rods or screws in your back. The goal is to select the best type of injection that will give you maximum benefits.
Be sure to communicate any known allergies to your pain management doctor to reduce the risk of adverse effects from the medicines used in the epidural injection. Your doctor will conduct a comprehensive evaluation with you prior to treatment to ensure that any relevant information is addressed ahead of time.
How Epidural Injections Relieve Pain
The corticosteroid reduces inflammation in the epidural space and nerve root. If you have a herniated disc, for example, you may think that the medicine decreased the size of your herniated disc, but that is not the case. It simply flushes proteins from the area, which reduces swelling around the spinal nerves. Once swelling is reduced, you will experience less pain.
Epidural injections have been safely used for over 50 years. Many researchers have studied its efficacy with favorable results. In addition to having a low risk of side effects, its proven effectiveness has made it a popular option for many chronic pain sufferers.
Types of Epidural Corticosteroid Injections
Many types of epidural injections are available. Choosing the correct one for you depends on where treatment is administered. Areas where injections can be placed include:
- Cervical (Neck)
- Thoracic (Upper/Middle Back)
This is for pain in the neck area. The needle is inserted through the side of the neck to the neural foramen to provide relief.
- Lumbar (Lower Back)
This epidural injection goes into the lower back, off to the side of the spine, to make it easier to reach the nerve canal.
- Caudal (Tailbone)
Placing the injection in the sacral hiatus treats pain in the tailbone. This allows the medicine to flow to the lowest spinal nerve, thus relieving pain in the entire area.
For all procedures, a dye is injected first to ensure that the medicine goes to the right place. A fluoroscopy (X-ray) image will be used to guide the needle into the precise area where it needs to go.
Candidates for Epidural Injections
Not everyone is a candidate for this pain management treatment. The following information will help you see if you might benefit from it.
Good candidates may include patients with:
- Pain in the:
- Low back
- Leg (sciatica)
- Certain types of pain resulting from shingles
- Spinal Stenosis
- Back and leg pain caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve root canal.
- The facets of the lower vertebrae become weakened or fractured. This allows them to slip forward, resulting in compression of the nerve root.
- Herniated Disc
- Discs on the spine have a gel-like material in between them. If they bulge or rupture this can press on the nerve, causing swelling and pain.
- Degenerated Disc
- A breakdown or aging of the intervertebral disc can cause a collapse of the disc space, annular tear, or bone spur.
- Pain that shoots from the buttocks, hip, or lower back down to the legs due to compression of either the 5th lumbar or the 1st sacral spinal nerve.
Pain caused by other inflammatory conditions can also be treated with epidural injections, but to be completely sure, contact the pain management team at Pacific Pain & Wellness Group for a thorough evaluation.
When to Consider Epidural Injections for Pain Relief
Epidural injections should not be the first line of defense with treating pain. Physical therapy and exercise should be attempted first. If there is no improvement after six weeks, the next step is to speak with a pain management doctor about the use of epidural injections.
This treatment does not replace other solutions like physical therapy and exercise. Those methods should continue, even after injections have been done.
Benefits of Corticosteroid Injections
People seek epidural corticosteroid injections for their ability to effectively relieve pain. This isn’t the only benefit, though.
Epidural injections may also help you:
- Avoid surgery and the risks associated with it.
- Improve mobility due to having less pain.
- Engage in activities that were not possible before because they caused too much pain.
- Have an alternative to taking addictive pain medications, such as opioids.
- Improve your quality of life by making it possible for you to live each day with less pain.
Surgery may not be an option for everyone. This can result in chronic, unmanaged pain. Epidural injections may be a good choice because treatment can effectively reduce inflammation and alleviate pain when surgery is not possible.
How to Prepare for Epidural Steroid Injections
The doctor performing your procedure will ask about your medical history to ensure that you’re a good candidate. Any X-ray, MRI, or CT images of the area being treated will be reviewed. If you haven’t had imaging done, your doctor may request this. Images help your doctor determine where the injection should go.
Several days before your procedure, it is important to stop all blood thinning medications. Be sure to report all medications you’re currently taking to your doctor. He or she will clarify what you can continue taking leading up to your injections. Do not discontinue any medications until you are told to do so.
You should not drive after your procedure. Schedule a ride or have someone accompany you so they can drive you home.
What to Expect When Getting an Epidural Steroid Injection
You will complete paperwork when you arrive for your first appointment. This will give your pain management doctor permission to reach out to your other medical providers, if needed. Make sure that you list all of the medications you currently take – both prescriptions and natural remedies such as herbal supplements and vitamins.
All allergies should be noted clearly on the forms and verbally communicated to your doctor to avoid adverse effects from the epidural injections.
The length of your appointment will depend on a few factors:
- Area(s) being treated
- Severity of the inflammation
- Tolerance to the injections
Most injections are usually done in about 15 to 45 minutes. Again, plan to have someone drive you home after your procedure.
You will lie face down on an X-ray table. The doctor will clean the area and then inject a local anesthetic to numb the site where the injections will be given. This will help the procedure be more comfortable for you.
General anesthesia is NOT used because it’s important that you remain alert to provide feedback during the procedure. If you anticipate feeling extremely anxious during your procedure, ask your doctor for a low dose sedative to help you feel more relaxed.
During the Treatment
Your doctor will use X-ray fluoroscopy to guide the needle to the appropriate area in the epidural space. Once the needle reaches the right area, the medicine is released.
Most patients report more of a sensation of pressure during treatment rather than pain. However, if you do feel discomfort it will only last a short time.
Recovering from the Epidural Injection Treatment
Your recovery time will depend on the area(s) treated. You will probably feel soreness at the injection site for several days afterward. This can be relieved with cold compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers. Most patients resume normal activities the next day.
What to Do After Treatment
Your doctor will ask you to report back on your level of pain after treatment to determine if it was effective. Some people experience lots of relief right away, which is ideal. It is a good idea to keep track of how long your pain relief lasts after your initial injection. This will help your doctor decide when it may be time for your next injection.
Significant pain relief may be immediate or may take several hours, depending on the individual. Patients who receive epidural injections for the first time often feel some effects shortly after leaving our clinic and then achieve continued improvement afterward.
A follow up appointment will be scheduled to answer questions and assess your treatment results. Do not miss your follow up appointment, as this is a time to discuss your individual response to treatment and plan how to prolong your relief. Some patients need subsequent injections to achieve optimal results. Injections can be given anywhere between one and four weeks apart.
Side Effects from Epidural Steroid Injections
This is a minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment that usually does not cause adverse side effects. However, some patients have reported:
- Weight gain
- Water retention
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
Individuals suffering from diabetes may experience a temporary increase in blood sugar levels following treatment.
Possible Risks Associated with the Procedure
Although epidural injections are safe, there are some risks. One possible risk is incorrect insertion of the needle. Additionally, the steroid medication used may weaken the muscles in the treated area if injections are overused. Pain management specialists generally limit the number of injections to a few times a year to avoid this risk.
Your doctor will address any concerns or questions you may have and inform you of the risks associated with this procedure.
Cost of Epidural Steroid Injections
The cost of injections varies greatly depending on many factors. Some patients can use their health insurance to pay for it, while others may not have coverage.
Your overall cost will depend on:
- Area(s) being treated
- Amount of imaging and labs needed beforehand
- Number of treatments required for best results
- Medicines used for your treatment
- Health insurance coverage (co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles)
Pacific Pain & Wellness Group accepts most major health insurance plans. We will assess your treatment needs and provide you with an estimate. If you have questions about the total amount of out-of-pocket costs, we recommend getting in touch with your health insurance company.
Get Epidural Injections in Torrance at Pacific Pain & Wellness Group
We have a team of experienced pain management doctors who care deeply about your quality of life and happiness. If you’ve been searching for a way to get relief from chronic pain, reach out to us for help. At Pacific Pain & Wellness Group, we care about you as much as you do. Our goal is to help you feel better so you can live better.
We offer many treatment options to ensure that there is a solution for everyone. Our pain management clinic is conveniently located in Torrance, Los Angeles. Call us now at (310) 437-7399.