If you are experiencing unrelenting back pain that doesn’t respond to other treatment methods such as exercise, medication, and physical therapy, your doctor may suggest injections that target pain and inflammation. Pain relief injections such as epidural injections are an outpatient procedure.
How it Works
An epidural injection, like its name suggests, targets the epidural space around the spinal cord and provides relief to the nerves located there. The injection contains both an anesthetic and a corticosteroid. The anesthetic helps to provide pain relief right away, while the steroid kicks in within a couple of days and reduces swelling and nerve irritation.
Imaging guidance technology is used to direct the needle to the most precise place. If you need to prepare at all in advance for the injection, your doctor will let you know. The injection itself only takes a few minutes, but the use of the imaging guidance takes a bit longer.
An epidural injection may be utilized for conditions and symptoms such as:
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine) resulting in back pain that is worse with activity
- Herniated disc
- Failed back surgery
- Nerve damage or inflammation, also referred to as radiculopathy
It’s also not uncommon for an epidural injection to be used to diagnose back pain. If your doctor targets a specific area or issue with the injection and your symptoms improve, it helps to narrow down the cause of your pain.
Things to Consider
You might experience mild irritation at the site of the injection for a few days, but this will subside. Pain relief can last up to several months, but repeat injections will eventually be needed once the results wear off.
Not everyone experiences the same level of relief with epidural injections. Your doctor will work with you to find the best solution to your pain.