If you are experiencing acute or chronic pain in the low back and/or leg, then you may benefit from lumbar transforaminal epidural steroid injections. There are a number of different conditions that can cause low back pain and/or leg pain (sciatica).
Running along your spine are dozens of nerves that branch out to every part of your body. If these nerves become inflamed, irritated or pinched, painful symptoms can develop in areas of the body served by the affected nerve. These painful sensations may be felt in the localized region of the nerve, or can radiate out to other areas of the body (“referred pain”). For instance, the sciatica nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It runs from the lower (lumbar) region of the spine all the way down to the feet. Therefore, if the sciatica nerve is impinged upon by spinal structures, there are plenty of places along this nerve where pain may manifest. Sciatica sufferers often experience pain in the lower back, buttocks or one or both legs.
Sciatica can often be the result of the cumulative effect of years of bad posture, obesity and natural wear and tear as we age. It can also occur suddenly due to injury or trauma. Other conditions that can be treated with lumbar transforaminal epidural steroid injections may include:
- Lumbar Disc Herniation
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
- Compression Fractures in a Vertebra
- Synovial Cyst in the Lumbar Spine.
- Lumbar Annular Tear
What is a Transforaminal Injection?
A transforaminal injection involves the administration of a long acting steroid medication into the opening at the side of the spine where a nerve root exits (also known as a foramen). The medication is administered into the ‘nerve sleeve’ – a small sleeve of the epidural space that extends out over the nerve root for a short distance. This injection is typically made up of a mixture of local anesthetic, saline and steroid medication. Once injected, the medicine travels up the sleeve and into the epidural space from the side. This technique is useful for delivering a more concentrated dose of the steroid into one affected area (i.e. one segment or one side). Transforaminal injections can provide both diagnostic and therapeutic benefit.
How is a Lumbar Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection Performed?
A lumbar transforaminal epidural steroid injection is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. During this procedure, the patient lies down with a cushion beneath their stomach to increase flexion in the lumbar spine, allowing more space for the needle to pass through. Prior to the injection, a local anesthetic will be applied to the treatment area in order to numb the skin.
Using real time x-ray (fluoroscopy), Dr. Marks or Dr. Rafii will guide the needle into place at the affected nerve. A contrast dye will first be injected to ensure that the needle is oriented precisely at the problematic nerve root. Once proper placement is confirmed, a combination of anti-inflammatory medication and local anesthetic is then injected into the area. The steroid medication works to reduce inflammation around the spinal nerve roots and the anesthetic provides immediate pain suppression at the source.
After the treatment is administered, a small bandage is placed on the injection site. The patient is then monitored for a short period of time before being discharged home. Benefits of the procedure are usually noticed within the first few hours after the procedure; however it can take several weeks for maximum improvements to be experienced.
Schedule an Appointment for Back or Leg Pain in Austin
A series of up to 3 injections may be recommended for some patients. When combined with physical therapy, this non-surgical treatment approach can be very effective for long-term spine related pain relief. If you are experiencing low back or leg pain, then lumbar transforaminal epidural steroid injections may be right for you. Contact the Diagnostic Pain Center to schedule an appointment with an Austin pain management physician, Dr. Robert S. Marks or Dr. Sauman A. Rafii. Call (512) 981-7246 or simply click on the button below to request an appointment now.