For patients looking to avoid surgery when their lumbar spinal stenosis (a gradual narrowing of the spinal canal) isn’t responding well to medications or physical therapy, the answer may be an epidural steroid injection. Recent research from Boston University School of Medicine suggests patients with LSS may experience relief for weeks or months with such injections, contradicting previous findings suggesting ESIs weren’t effective for LSS patients.
Varying Injection Choices
Unlike the previous study, researchers varied the injection methods and the choice of the type of injection used by participants, with certain epidural steroid injections proving to be highly effective.
Targeting the Worst Stenosis Level
Most of the positive results from the study were reported when ESIs were administered at the worst stenosis level for a participant. Interlaminar injections (given in the affected area between vertebrae) were better at relieving LSS pain than shots administered elsewhere. The study also found that long-acting ESIs tended to be more beneficial for sustained pain relief.
New Hope for Avoiding Surgery
These latest findings on ESIs for lumbar spinal stenosis offer a viable alternative to surgery for patients, which often involves a laminectomy (removal of the back part of the vertebra covering the spinal canal). The possibility of long-lasting relief from ESIs may also spare patients from dealing with the potential risks associated with a lumbar laminectomy, including:
- Wound site infections
- Spinal instability
- Nerve injuries (possibly resulting in further damage)
- Anesthesia reactions
Finding the Right Location for the Shot
Pain itself isn’t always an indication of where the worst damage from spinal stenosis is along the spinal canal since pressure on nerves can sometimes transfer pain to other locations. Sciatic pain, for instance, can travel down the leg. MRIs and CT scans can be used to help patients determine the exact location of the nerve compression to better determine where to place the injection.
Epidural steroid injections for back pain are a combination of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic pain relief medicine. The strong anti-inflammatory benefits of ESIs can provide immediate relief of swelling and inflammation affecting nerves and tissues in the narrower parts of the spinal canal in patients with LSS.
To learn more about your treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis, call The Spine Institute Center in Los Angeles at (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation with one of our experienced spine surgeons. The path to a pain-free life starts here.