People who are experiencing back pain that is not responding to conservative treatments such as medications and physical therapy may find relief from steroid preparations that are administered via injections. The procedure can be done in the doctor’s office, hospital, or outpatient surgery center. Several different types of medical practitioners are qualified to perform epidural injections including anesthesiologists, neurologists, radiologists and Los Angeles spine surgeons.
The epidural space in an enclosed area that surrounds the dura, or tough sheath that encases the spinal cord and spinal fluid. The area is filled with air, fatty tissue and blood vessels. When painful conditions are present along the spine, the structures send inflammatory agents in and around the area that irritate nerve endings and cause pain. A few common ailments that are treated with epidural injections include:
- Disc herniation
- Spinal stenosis
- Compression fractures
What Happens During the Process
Patients are generally positioned flat on their abdomens on an x-ray table, and a site along the spine is prepped with antibacterial cleansers. The skin is then numbed with a local anesthetic and a needle is guided by live x-ray imaging into the epidural space. A dye is then administered through the needle in order to enhance visualization of the target area. After the correct positioning is confirmed, between 15 and 30 ml of the prepared medication is slowly injected into the space.
The Effectiveness of the Procedure
People who undergo epidural injection therapy for back pain may receive the treatment in evenly spaced intervals of two to four months throughout the year, or the physician may decide to administer two or three injections in a series spaced out over two to four weeks.
Patients who suffer from sciatica tend to experience the highest success rates, and the benefits are enhanced when the treatment is coupled with regular physical therapy. People who find relief with epidural injections report experiencing better life quality and an increase in activity levels. Improved mental health has been seen in many patients who suffered from depression due to chronic pain.
To learn more about your treatment options for back pain, reach out to Dr. Bae, Medical Director at The Spine Institute in Los Angeles, and his team of experienced spine physicians. Call (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.