What Are Epidural Steroid Injections?
Epidural steroid injections, also known as ESIs, are a type of procedure that is often used in the treatment of inflammation correlating with back and neck pain. For instance, ESIs can be used to help control leg pain that’s related to lower back pain or arm pain that originates from neck-related pain.
In these types of conditions, the spinal nerves can become inflamed due to a narrowing of the nerve passages where nerves travel down and out of the spine. This condition is what leads to pain that is felt in one area of the body (such as the back) radiating elsewhere in the body (such as the legs).
Why Do People Get Epidural Steroid Injections?
People get epidural steroid injections in Austin to help treat the pain and inflammation of these nerve passages, particularly those located in the neck and lower back.
There are a variety of conditions that can cause the spinal passages to significantly narrow, including:
- Disc herniation
- Thickening of spinal ligament
- Bone spurs
- Joint cysts
- Abnormal alignment of the vertebrae
The space between the spine and the spinal cord inside of it is known as the epidural space. This space is essentially a fat-filled pocket that surrounds the spinal sac and helps cushion the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.
Steroids or ‘cortisone’ that is injected into the epidural space can have a very powerful anti-inflammatory effect that diminishes pain, allowing the patient to experience improved function. While steroid shots do not eliminate the underlying condition, they do help break the inflammation and pain cycle, giving the patient significant relief from their symptoms.
Blocking the pain directly at its source can allow the patient to more easily transition into a physical therapy program that can more effectively address the root problem. The duration of pain relief experienced after an epidural steroid injection varies from patient to patient, but may last up to a year or longer. ESIs represent an important non-surgical approach to pain management that allow those who suffer from pain to resume their normal daily activities and lead a more active lifestyle.
Types of Epidural Steroid Injections
Three types of epidural steroid injections exist:
All three approaches involve your physician placing a thin needle into the epidural space with fluoroscopic assistance (x-ray assistance). These three approaches differ, however, in their delivery methods of injecting the steroid into the epidural space.
- Interlaminar ESI
This approach is considered the most common approach and is simply referred to as an epidural or epidural injection. It involves placing the needle into the back, along the epidural space, and delivering the steroid over the expanse of that wider area.
- Caudal ESI
This approach involves inserting the needle into the sacral hiatus (a boney opening above the tailbone), which lets the steroid medication flow from the bottom of the epidural space and into the expanse of the spinal canal.
- Transforaminal ESI
Also known as a nerve block, this approach involves the needle being inserted alongside the nerve where it exits the spine. The medication is injected into the nerve sleeve there, allowing it to travel from the sleeve and into the epidural space on the side. This approach allows concentrated doses of medication to be selectively administered into the epidural space, helping minimize pain.
What Happens After Getting an Epidural Steroid Injection?
After receiving any form of epidural steroid injections, the steroid typically starts working within one to three days. For some patients, the effects of this type of treatment may take up to a week to soothe the inflamed area and reduce associated pain. Although epidural steroid injections aren’t for everyone, they have proven to be a safe and very effective treatment for many individuals suffering from back and neck related pain conditions. Most patients experience significant improvement of pain symptoms with Austin epidural steroid injection treatment, often experiencing relief for several months or longer. If you respond well to ESI treatment, injections can be repeated periodically throughout the year to control pain.
Schedule a Consultation for Epidural Steroid Injection Treatment in Austin
Do you suffer from back or neck pain? Then you may be a candidate for epidural steroid injection treatment in Austin. Call (512) 981-7246 to schedule a consultation with our providers today.