Epidural steroid injections are commonly used by a Pain Clinic for treatment of lower back pain, sciatica and radicular pain from lumbar spine disorders. If epidural steroid injections have been recommended as a treatment for you, here are 5 things you should know.
#1 The Epidural Steroid Injection is Quick and Easy
If you’ve never had an epidural, it’s common to be concerned before the procedure. However, after the procedure, it’s common to hear patients say “Is that it?” Most people feel only a minor discomfort; however, sedation can be given to you if you are anxious or to ensure maximum comfort. If sedation is used, you’ll need to be monitored for a longer time frame after the epidural. Seldom is it necessary. Without sedation, you’ll be monitored for 15 to 20 minutes and then discharged.
#2 The Epidural Steroid Injection is Injected into the Epidural Region
The spinal cord is in the spinal canal and at each level of the vertebra the nerve roots branch out. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protects the cord and layers of membrane hold the CSF into place. One of these layers is called the dura, which is Greek for tough and Epi is Greek for outside of. The epidural area is outside the tough membrane.
A needle and syringe are used to enter the epidural space and deposit tiny amounts of steroids around the inflammation. These steroids are designed to last for longer periods. A fluoroscope is used to see the anatomy so the injection is done accurately.
#3 The Epidural Steroid Injection has a 50% Success Rate
In 50% of cases, the epidural is successful. If you do not get relief from your first epidural, it’s highly unlikely that your pain doctors will repeat the process. However, if you have any improvement at all, it is often repeated again.
#4 Epidural Injection Schedules Can Vary
There is no one schedule for epidural injections. However, it is considered acceptable to have up to 3 epidural injections in a 6-month period. Epidurals are usually done in intervals of 2-weeks.
#5 There are Some Potential Side Effects and Risks from Epidural Steroid Injections
Invasive medical procedures have some risk, and this one is no different.
• Temporary bladder and/or bowel numbness is the most common.
• Bleeding is rare but does occasionally occur in patients who have a bleeding disorder.
• Severe infection is rare, but does occur 0.01% to 0.1% of the time.
• Nerve damage is also rare but can occur if there is trauma from the needle or because of bleeding or infection.
• A wet tap (dural puncture) happens 0.05% of the time. It can cause a painful headache while standing or sitting, but that is relieved when you lie down. This will usually resolve itself in a few days.
• Fever over 101 degrees. If the fever lasts more than 24 hours or is extremely high see your doctor.
• Severe pain that is not controlled through OTC pain medications.
• Loss of feeling or function in the arms or legs.
You are now armed with some valuable information on epidural steroid injections, which can make you feel a little bit more relaxed about the overall procedure. Your Las Vegas Pain Clinic Doctors are ready to answer any questions you may have about your procedure.