Understanding Epidural Steroid Injections

Epidural steroid injections or ESIs are a common treatment for different parts of lower limbs and lower back pain. This non-surgical form of pain management has been in use since the 1950s. ESIs can be used independently, however, in many cases ESIs are used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for individuals with lower back and lower limb pains. The main goal of the ESI is to provide pain relief and therefore it is an additional benefit when used as part of a general treatment plan. The effects of the injection are temporary and that is why a good rehabilitation plan is necessary for the patient.

What is an ESI?

The injection is made of long lasting corticosteroids and anesthetic agents. The medication is injected into the epidural space of the spine hence the name epidural steroid injections. The epidural space is the region between the protective covering of the spinal cord and the vertebrae, it is fat filled and has many tiny blood vessels. The aim of the injection is to reduce inflammation. The effects of the drugs can be short term or long term; pain relief can last up to one year. This allows patients to undergo rehabilitation therapy and exercises to improve their condition without the hindrance of pain.

Candidates of ESIs

Pain associated with the low back, legs, neck or arms can be relieved using ESIs. The conditions include:

  • Spinal steniosis: This condition causes the narrowing of the nerve root canal and spinal canal. Patients experience a lot of back and leg pain, usually when they walk.
  • Herniated disc: The disc contains a gel-like material, which might rupture if there is a weak area in the surrounding wall. When this gel-like material oozes out and comes into contact with the spinal nerve it causes a lot of irritation, and swelling.
  • Spondylolysis: Fractures and weaknesses between the upper and lower facets of the vertebrae can cause a vertebra to slip forward. This misalignment of the vertebrae causes compression on the nerve roots causing a lot of pain.
  • Degenerative disk: Osteoarthritis of the spine that normally affects the neck and lower back.
  • Sciatica: Sciatica patients often experience pain in the buttocks and lower limbs radiating from the path of the sciatic nerve.

Although epidural injections can help alleviate pain in inflammatory conditions, the injections should not be administered to people with infections, bleeding or during pregnancy. The steroids in the medication can also increase the blood sugar for people with diabetes and blood pressure among hypertensive within 24 hours of injections. Such cases should be monitored carefully.

ESI risks and Side effects

Almost all medications have side effects but most of the time, you will not feel them. Most side effects are also short lived and manageable without the need for further treatment. In many cases, the benefits of the medication far outweigh the side effects. Some of the side effects of epidural steroid injections include temporary numbness of bladder and bowels, infections, dural punctures causing headaches, nerve damage from the needle and bleeding among patients with underlying bleeding disorders.

Contact our Fort Lauderdale location for all info on Epidural Steroid Injections 954-678-1074