Dealing with lower back pain can be tough for some patients. At times, the pain is hard to manage, and painkillers might not be the right solution. Depending on the facts of the case, doctors may use epidural steroid injections. In this post, we will discuss some of the aspects of such injections in detail.
What's an epidural steroid injection?
The use of injections for low back pain is limited to certain cases, but this is certainly one of the many ways to treat chronic pain. An epidural steroid injection essentially contains an anesthetic drug for pain relief with a corticosteroid. For the uninitiated, corticosteroid is a form of steroids known to have anti-inflammatory benefits. The injection helps in reducing the pressure from the nerves and surrounding areas and muscles, which can offer significant respite, while the painkiller ensures immediate relief. Corticosteroids may work independently for pain relief, but since most patients want immediate effects, an anesthetic medicine is used.
Knowing the procedure
Please note that you cannot ask your doctor for epidural steroid injections. Unless the patient has stopped responding to nonsurgical treatments, doctors don't try ESIs. In most cases, certain imaging tests are done, so as to find the right spot where the nerve roots at pressed or have a problem. In some cases, a x-ray machine may be used by the doctor, just to find the right point where the needle must be placed.
The need for epidural steroid injections
Typically, epidural steroid injections are used as the last resort to offer pain relief, especially in cases of extreme pain, often related to a condition known as "lumbar spinal stenosis". This condition mainly starts from the lower spine and often spreads to the legs. There is limited information on how these injections may work in the long run, but like most steroid injections, this too offers relief for the next few weeks. It is always best to talk to your doctor, who can suggest more details in this regard. However, in cases of lumbar spinal stenosis, other treatments are tried and used as well.
What are the side effects?
There can be a few side effects with ESIs, but that varies from case to case. In most cases, the focus is on reducing the pain, so the minimal adverse effects are ignored. However, if you have issues with breathing or have swelling on your facial area, do contact your doctor immediately. There can be some pain at the injection site, but if that doesn't subside in the next couple of days, check with your doctor. For immediate swelling at the injection site, you can use ice, which will also offer some relief from the associated pain.
Pain management clinics have a lot of information on epidural steroid injections. If you need to know more about lumbar spinal stenosis, you should consult a doctor at the earliest. With early intervention, other treatments may work more effectively for you, but it also depends on how you respond to the standard treatment plans.