How Can Epidural Steroid Injections Help My Back Pain?

ByThe Pain Doctors

How Can Epidural Steroid Injections Help My Back Pain?

For many people in Baltimore, suffering from chronic pain has become a way of life.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly 31 million Americans suffer from back pain at any given time.  This lends to increased disability claims, missed work, and expensive medical bills if not treated properly.

That’s why enlisting the help of your Baltimore pain management doctor is the key to making your pain disappear so that you can enjoy doing the things you love.

Epidural steroid injections are one of the most popular non-surgical solutions for people suffering from back pain.  They offer extensive pain relief and have the potential to postpone or even prevent back surgery in the future for patients that respond well to treatment.

Today we are going to examine what an epidural steroid injection for back pain is and how they might offer relief.


What Is An Epidural Steroid Injection?

In technical terms, an epidural steroid injection is a minimally invasive procedure that helps to relieve not only back pain, but neck, arm, and even leg pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves.  In addition, people with spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, or herniated discs may receive an epidural injection procedure to help relieve associated pain.


What Does An Epidural Steroid Injection Do?

A steroid injection is a combination of a corticosteroid and anesthetic numbing agents.  Delivered directly into the epidural space of your spine, an epidural steroid injection is designed to do the following:

  • Reduce inflammation caused by injury or disease
  • Provide long-term, temporary relief of pain when applied directly to pain points
  • Flush away proteins that cause swelling pain
  • Decrease pain enough to perform rehabilitative exercises in hopes of avoiding surgery
  • Improve spinal condition, especially when used in tandem with physical therapy

Performed by our expert Baltimore pain physicians who are trained in administering lumbar epidural injections, those suffering from lower back, or lumbar, pain have been known to benefit greatly from these procedures.  In fact, patients undergoing epidural injection procedures receive at least some pain relief, mental health clarity, and improved quality of life.  In addition, patients’ reliance on painkillers decrease as a result of epidural steroid injections for back pain.


How Does An Epidural Steroid Injection Work?

Epidural steroid injections are designed to provide you pain relief when experiencing debilitating back pain.  Plus, they can help your pain management specialist better identify the exact source of your pain and help create a more effective long-term treatment plan for you.

The steroid medications within a lumbar steroid injection not only treat present inflammation in the region administered, they help to prevent further inflammation as well.

They do so by hindering your immune response to infection, viruses, bacteria, and injury, all of which result in an increase in white blood cells, as well as inflammation.  Once the inflammation is reduced, your body begins to heal naturally.  This is because pressure is taken off the nerves that are exhibiting pain, and the soft tissue can begin to heal.

Additionally, it is believed that epidural steroid injections promote blood flow through the epidural spaces since they are a fluid being forced directly into a specific area.  This increased blood flow is thought to inhibit pain receptors and flush out inflammatory proteins and chemicals, both of which increase pain.


Do Epidural Injections Hurt?

Aside from the initial administration of the anesthetic (numbing agent) at the start of the epidural injection procedure, you will not feel any pain during an epidural injection procedure.

Keep in mind that lumbar epidural injections are not immediate relief solutions.  After the injection is administered, pain will return approximately 1-2 hours after the numbing agent wears off.  However, after 3-5 days, you should begin to notice the injection setting in and working to relieve you of your pain.


How Long Do Epidural Injections Last?

Epidural injections are typically administered in sets of three, spaced two weeks apart.  From there, it will depend on your individual needs how many treatment sessions you will need in the future.  However, it has been noted that successful steroid injections can provide anywhere from a few days to a months’ worth of pain relief for most patients.


What Are the Side Effects of Epidural Steroid Injections?

Since steroid injections are minimally invasive, there are few risks associated with epidural injection procedures.  However, there are some side effects to be aware of:

  • Spinal headache
  • Infection at the site of injection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Nerve damage
  • Weight gain
  • Water retention
  • Mood swings or insomnia
  • Numbness or mild muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood sugar levels for those with diabetes

Again, though minimally invasive, most medical procedures come with some level of risk.  This is why discussing epidural steroid injection procedures with your Baltimore pain specialist is important before making any kind of final decision regarding medical treatment of back pain.


Who Can Benefit From an Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure?

Anyone with back pain (as well as neck, arm, and leg pain) can benefit from epidural steroid injections.  However, those with following conditions will benefit the most:

  • Spinal Stenosis. This narrowing of the spinal and nerve root canal, which puts pressure on the spine and nerves within the spine, causes a lot of back pain.  Commonly occurring in the lower back region, it is typically attributed to age and wear and tear on the body.
  • Spondylolysis. This defect or stress fracture affecting the spine’s arch presses on the nerve roots and causes pain.  This cause of lower back pain is commonly found in young athletes that participate in demanding and close contact sports such as gymnastics, football, and weightlifting.
  • Degenerative Disc. This disease is one of the most common causes of lower back and neck pain.  In short, degenerative disc disease is a result of the loss of cushioning on discs making up the vertebrae. It can also include fragmentation and herniation of the discs, which is usually seen in aging patients.
  • Sciatica. Pain that follows the length of the sciatic nerve (from the buttocks down the leg) is usually attributed to compressed spinal nerves in the lower back.  It can also be associated with a herniated disc or a bone spur pressing on the nerves of the spine.  Sciatica usually only affects one side of the body.
  • Herniated Disc. This is when the soft center of a disc in your spine pushes through a crack in the tough exterior of the disc.  These exposures usually irritate nerves and result in pain, numbness, or weakness, mostly in the arm or leg.  In addition, irritation, pain, and swelling can affect the spine causing back pain as well.  While epidural injections are not intended to heal herniated discs, they can help ease the pain as minor herniated discs heal naturally.  On the other hand, serious herniated discs may not respond well to epidural injections, or heal on their own, and may require surgical treatment.
  • Whiplash.  Though not necessarily affecting the lower back region, whiplash is an injury that occurs in the neck region.  This is when tissues in the spine are damaged due to some forceful movement, such as a car accident.  In this case, an epidural injection in the neck can help with any pain associated with the injury and aid the healing process.

As you can see, there are several instances where an epidural steroid injection may help to relieve pain, allow the natural healing process to progress, and improve the quality of your life.


Final Thoughts

If you suffer from regular back pain, consider enlisting the help of your Baltimore pain management specialists, The Pain Doctors, today.  Our pain management specialists are committed to understanding your pain and creating customized treatment plans to meet your individual needs.

Understanding that surgical procedures are often the last thing any patient wants to consider, The Pain Doctors are dedicated to providing you with superior care that is as minimally invasive as possible.  We are exceptional at identifying your exact cause of pain, treating it, and allowing you to continue living a full life.

With advanced technologies and modern procedures in place for diagnosing and treating all underlying causes, you can rest assured that with the help of The Pain Doctors, your back pain will be a thing of the past.

Schedule an appointment today with one of our pain management specialists to see if an epidural steroid injection is the right treatment for you.

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Living in the Baltimore area means there are plenty of pain management specialists to choose from.  However, if you don’t know what to look for, searching for a pain management doctor near you can be overwhelming.

That’s why today, we are here to ease some of that frustration and guide you towards making an informed decision.

We will start by examining some of the reasons why you might want to visit a pain management clinic in Baltimore and look at what exactly a pain management doctor does.  Then, we will share with you what to look in a pain management specialist so that you find the perfect one to relieve your pain.

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Chances are good that your answer is “yes.” In fact, there are very few of us who have not endured some form of pain due to injury, arthritis, nerve damage, surgery, and more.

Unfortunately, pain is commonplace in our world today. In fact, according to a 2008 study, over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.

With huge portions of our population spending extended periods of time on computers, and others exerting themselves with more physical labor, there are a number of opportunities to have a run-in with pain, and many different types of pain to be had. In fact, pain affects more U.S. citizens than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

As you can see, pain is a huge issue for many of our neighbors and friends in Baltimore.

Unfortunately, the way to handle that pain is not always clear.

Because there are so many different types of pain and different ideas of how to best treat it, it is often a struggle to find the pain relief treatment that will work best for you. Many doctors will prescribe the same medicine or apply the same treatment plan to all patients, regardless of the type of pain you’re in.

That is where interventional pain management can help.

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It is unfortunate that pain is so common in our world today, and that people are unsure of how to reduce the pain in order to live a normal life.

Our Baltimore pain relief physicians understand that most types of pain get in the way of everyday tasks and it can sometimes be a struggle to find any sort of relief.

Suffering from chronic pain can often leave you feeling as if you have no options.

But, you do have many options for pain relief in Baltimore.

Have you ever considered eating to recover from your pain?

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More than 80% of Americans will have at least one episode of back pain in their lives.  This ends up costing the American taxpayers approximately $100 billion annually.

With a cost this great, wouldn’t you want to see these people suffering from back pain to get better, faster?

There are several approaches to dealing with back pain.  These include conservative care such as chiropractic and physical therapy, some less conservative care such as interventional pain management and medical management.  And then, as a last resort, we have surgery.

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Maybe the muscles in your neck go into excruciating spasms for seemingly no reason at all.

Well if so, you are not alone.

Neck pain is a common complaint among many people.  In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 15% of all American adults will experience some form of neck pain within a three-month period.

Since this painful experience is likely to strike at some point in your life, it is important to have a basic understanding of what neck pain is, what causes it, and which treatment options are available.

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At some point in life, upwards of 80% of people will experience some sort of lower back pain.  And while it may be short-lived, those who have experienced pain in their lower backs can surely attest to the agony and debilitation it causes, regardless of how long it lasts.

Lower back pain complaints are a common issue in Baltimore pain relief centers, and are a regular reason to miss work.  And while most back pain resolves itself with time, there are sometimes serious injuries that must be addressed by your local Baltimore pain relief specialists in order to regain normalcy in your life.

Preventing lower back pain is important to your overall health.  Today, we will take a look at some of the top causes of lower back pain in hopes that you can prevent ever having to experience the painful effects of an injured back.

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