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Do Epidural Shots Work For Back Pain

What Happens After An Epidural Corticosteroid Injection Procedure

Ease Chronic Back Pain With Epidural Steroid Injections

Once the procedure is done, you can return home. Usually, you’ll be able to return to normal activities on the next day. The steroids usually begin working within 1 to 3 days. In some cases, you might need up to a week to feel the benefits.

Many people get several months of improvement of pain and function from the injections. If the injection is effective, it can be repeated. If you have any side effects, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.

If you don’t have pain relief, talk with your healthcare provider. This may be a sign that the pain is coming from some place other than the spinal nerves.

What Are The Risks Or Complications Of Getting An Epidural

Epidurals are usually safe, but there are risks of certain side effects and complications. Although rare, risks and complications that apply to all types of epidural procedures include:

  • Having low blood pressure, which can make you feel lightheaded.
  • Experiencing a severe headache caused by spinal fluid leakage. Less than 1% of people experience this side effect.
  • Getting an infection from the epidural procedure, such as an epidural abscess, discitis, osteomyelitis or meningitis.
  • Having a negative reaction to the medications, such as hot flashes or a rash.
  • Experiencing bleeding if a blood vessel is accidentally damaged during the injection, which could cause a hematoma or a blood clot to form.
  • Having damage to the nerves at the injection site.
  • Temporarily losing control of your bladder and bowels. You might need a catheter in your bladder to help you pee.

Disadvantages and risks that apply to epidural analgesia for labor and delivery specifically include:

  • You might lose feeling in your legs for a few hours.
  • It might slow down the second stage of labor.
  • You might not be able to push and need help to give birth. Your provider may need to use forceps or a vacuum to help deliver your baby.
  • Your baby will need to be closely monitored during your labor.

Risks and complications that apply to epidural steroid injections specifically include:

Epidural Injection For Back Pain

I recently went to pain management

Dr. For low chronic back pain. Anyone have advice on this.

0 likes, 8 replies

  • 3 years ago


    I have had a number of steroid injections over the years for lower back pain and nerve pain that radiates into my hips and down my legs.

    The success can vary, but most people get between 3-9 months of benefits from having had it done. I have had facet joints injected as well as caudal epidural. They do help, and certainly help to dampen down the inflammation. For me surgery is not an option, so injections and or medication is the only choice I have x

  • Posted 3 years ago

    Ty Holly. Im scheduled for thursday and kind of afraid. Had this pain for 2 years and they dont want to give pain meds anymore. I hope i dont feel the needle. Mine seems to be arthritic in lower back pain

  • Posted 3 years ago

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Why Dont Steroid Injections Work

Steroid injections may work for some patients but not for others results are often unpredictable. Some may get weeks or months of relief, while others will see no relief or very short-term relief. Steroid injections often arent effective when it comes to avoiding lumbar fusion surgery, and may not be appropriate for all cases of back pain. Typically, these injections fail to help patients who have chronic pain, especially over the long term.

How To Administer An Epidural

Central Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Do Epidural Steroids Help?

During childbirth, an epidural administration will usually involve a catheter. This is a small tube that a healthcare professional inserts into the lower part of the back using a needle. After removal of the needle, the catheter remains in place to deliver the medicine through the tube. The person receiving the epidural will still be awake and alert during childbirth but will have some loss of feeling and pain in the lower part of their body.

Before the epidural administration, the healthcare professional will typically numb the injection area with a local anesthetic. A local anesthetic is a type of medicine that numbs a small area of the body. There may be a small pressure or tingling sensation during the injection. However, after injection of the epidural, there should be very little pain. A person may still feel some pressure with the insertion of the needle.

The anesthesia team will attempt to provide a person giving birth with pain relief for as long as necessary. Typically, after the first 4872 hours, they may try to transition to oral pain medications and discontinue the epidural catheter.

However, not every person will require an epidural, and they can discuss their options with the anesthesia care team. In fact, some people may not be a suitable candidate for an epidural. This may include individuals with bleeding disorders, those currently taking blood thinners, or those with a history of spine or brain problems.

Side effects of epidurals may include:

  • nausea

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Myth : Epidural Steroid Injections Are Only For Lower Back Pain

While the lower back is the most commonly associated area for epidural steroid injections, it can actually be used to help any pain that is caused by issues with your spine. This includes treating lower leg pain caused by compression in the lower back, as well as neck pain and radiating arm pain as well.

What Happens During An Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure

An epidural steroid injection is a simple procedure:

  • Your healthcare provider will use an X-ray machine showing moving images on a screen to guide the needle as he or she makes the injection and ensures that the needle is in the correct location.
  • Contrast dye is injected at the site to make sure that the medicine will be sent to the exact place it needs to go.
  • The healthcare provider will inject the steroid medicine itself, often along with a local anesthetic to help with pain relief.
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    What Is A Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection

    A lumbar epidural steroid injection is an injection of anti-inflammatory medicine a steroid or corticosteroid into the epidural space around the spinal nerves in your low back. The main goal of lumbar epidural steroid injections is to manage chronic pain caused by irritation and inflammation of the spinal nerve roots in your low back due to certain conditions or injuries. This type of chronic pain is called lumbar radiculopathy , which can radiate down from your low back to your hips, legs and/or feet.

    How Can An Esi Help Me

    How Can An Epidural Steroid Injection Help Back Pain?
    • ESIs decrease pain in the low back
    • No drowsiness unlike some pain medications, there is no drowsiness after an ESI
    • Based on a patients response after an ESI, a doctor can decide where a back surgery needs to be done in the future
    • An ESI is a minimally invasive procedure there are no scars -there is only a small entry site where the needle is placed past your skin

    For a patient success story, after treatment at NSPC,

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    Myth No : Anyone Can Have An Epidural

    Physicians assess epidural eligibility based on medical and personal history.

    Women taking anticoagulation medications, or blood thinners, must stop these medications within an appropriate timeframe before labor to be eligible to receive an epidural. Women with other conditions, such as spina bifida, or who have had back surgery, may not be eligible to receive an epidural.

    We highly recommend that women have a pre-birth anesthesia consultation so that the obstetrics and anesthesiology teams can create a care plan for their individual needs, says Dr. Higgins.

    Personal Stories About Considering Epidural Steroid Shots

    These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

    I started feeling better soon after I had the shot. I was able to sleep through the night without waking up from pain. It really helped my energy level. And I started taking short walks in the morning again.

    I have a really hard time in general recovering from procedures. I guess I’m just sensitive or something. Anyway, I’m concerned that the shots may involve more pain than they’re worth. I’m going to see if my back pain gets better on its own before I decide to have these shots.

    Rick, age 70

    I’ve had terrible back pain for a month or more, and now it’s spreading down my leg. I tried taking it easy, but that isn’t helping. I’ve thought about getting the steroid shots. But I don’t want to pay for something that might not last very long. My doctor said losing some weight and trying physical therapy could help my back pain. I think I’ll try those things first.

    Carlos, age 42

    I work in a retail store, and I’m on my feet all day. I have a hard time getting through the day, because my back and leg pain is so bad. I think the shots could help me, and I’m willing to try anything. I need to be able to do my job, and any pain relief would be a welcome thing.

    Connie, age 58

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    Alternatives To Epidural Spinal Injections

    Your doctor will discuss your treatment options to help you decide whether or not to have an epidural for your lower back or leg pain. Most episodes of sciatica get better on their own in time, without the need for injections or other invasive treatments. There are many other methods for managing the pain, including painkillers and physiotherapy. You might decide to try or continue using these options rather than have an epidural injection.

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    How Do I Get Ready For A Thoracic Epidural Injection

    Your Epidural Needle Won

    Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare for your shot. Be sure to tell him or her about the following:

    • Any past problems with contrast dye or allergies to medicines

    • Any recent symptoms, such as a sudden fever

    • Any medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin

    • If you are pregnant or think you might be

    • Your medical history

    You may be told not to eat or drink anything for several hours before your procedure. You may need to stop taking some medicines. You should also have someone available to drive you home afterward.

    You may need other tests before you get the shot. For example, an MRI may provide more information about the structure of your back.

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    What Are The Results

    Many patients experience some pain relief benefits from ESI . For those who experience only mild pain relief, one to two more injections may be performed, usually in 1-4 week intervals, to achieve full effect. Duration of pain relief varies, lasting for weeks or years. Injections are done in conjunction with a physical therapy and/or home exercise program to strengthen the back muscles and prevent future pain episodes.

    I Have Failed Back Surgery And I Needed To Do Something

    We will often be contacted by people following a failed back surgery. Sometimes they have a long story, sometimes we can tell that they have a lot of pain and frustration because they only tell a short story. For example, I have lower back pain. I have lumbar fusion. The surgery was very successful for a few years. Now I have significant pain. I have had three epidurals and various drugs. I needed to do something. But now even these injections and pills do not help me.

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    Try Conservative Measures First To Control Pain And Know The Limits And Risks Of Cortisone Shots If You Choose To Try It

    Most people who suffer with back pain already know the drill: time heals this wound. Over weeks to months, the pain will calm down, and you will slowly return to your normal life. In the meantime, try to stay as active as possible and rely as much as possible on over-the-counter pain relievers to help avoid needing cortisone shots. Doctors call these shots corticosteroid injections.

    But for some, these conservative measures may not relieve the agony soon enoughespecially if the problem is back pain caused by irritated spinal nerves. After a few weeks, just getting to the bathroom may start to feel like Napoleon’s winter march in Russia. At that point, you may be offered a cortisone injection to calm the war zone in your lower back.

    Even for nerve-related back pain, guidelines discourage hasty intervention with cortisone shots. “You would do less invasive, less aggressive things first,” says Dr. Robert Shmerling, Corresponding Faculty, Harvard Medical School.

    However, if you choose to take a cortisone shot, know its limits. “The shots are almost always a temporary measure,” Dr. Shmerling says. “In general, it’s for symptom control, and not a definitive treatment for most conditions

    Preparing For An Epidural Injection

    What You Should Know: Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections

    Your doctor will explain how to prepare for your procedure. You’ll need to go into hospital to have an epidural injection from a pain specialist or spinal surgeon. You’ll usually have the injection and go home later the same day. Make sure that you arrange for someone to drive you home, and preferably stay with you overnight.

    You may be asked to stop eating and drinking for several hours before having an epidural injection. Youll usually still be allowed to have clear fluids up to a couple of hours beforehand. Follow any instructions given to you by your doctor.

    Tell your doctor about any medications youre on. If youre taking any medicines, particularly blood thinning medicines, you may be asked to stop taking these for a few days before the procedure. Never stop any medication unless your doctor tells you to.

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    What Are Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections Used For

    Healthcare providers use lumbar epidural steroid injections to manage a type of chronic pain known as lumbar radicular pain, which is caused by spinal nerve root inflammation and irritation in your low back. Lumbar radicular pain is often called sciatica. Lumbar radicular pain can cause the following symptoms, which can radiate from your low back down the back of your leg below your knee to your calf and/or foot:

    • Pain.
    • Muscle weakness.
    • Tingling.

    Many conditions can irritate your spinal nerve roots in your low back and cause lumbar radiculopathy , including:

    Other conditions that may be treated with lumbar ESIs include:

    • Localized low back pain : Axial low back pain can vary widely and have numerous causes. It can be a sharp or dull pain that you experience constantly or infrequently, and the pain can range from mild to severe.
    • Neurogenic claudication: This condition happens from compression of the spinal nerves in your lumbar spine. It can cause pain or tingling in your low back and one or both of your legs, hips and buttocks. These symptoms are especially present when youre standing upright or walking.

    Does The Injection Hurt

    The injection of local anesthetic at the beginning of the procedure may sting some, but ESI is an otherwise routine procedure that is extremely well tolerated by patients ranging in age from the mid-teens to well over ninety years old. If you are anxious or concerned about pain during the procedure, please discuss with Dr. Zeballos the possibility for your receiving intravenous sedation.

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    What Are Epidural Steroid Injections

    Epidural place medication directly around a pinched nerve as it exits the spine within the epidural space. The epidural space is between the bones and discs of the spine, and the nerves and spinal cord. This is the space into which disc tissue can herniate and cause pressure and inflammation around spinal nerves.

    How Do I Prepare For A Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection


    Before your lumbar ESI, its important to tell your healthcare provider if youre pregnant or might be pregnant due to the likely use of fluoroscopy imaging during the procedure. You also need to tell your provider which medications you’re taking, including herbs, supplements and other non-prescription drugs.

    Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions about what you need to do to prepare for your ESI injection. Be sure to follow their instructions. Your provider may:

    • Limit your eating or drinking for a certain amount of time before your lumbar ESI.
    • Adjust certain medications youre taking, especially blood thinner medications.
    • Request an MRI or CT scan of your back before your lumbar ESI to help determine the exact area that needs to be treated.
    • Make sure you have someone with you to drive you home if youre going to take a sedative for your lumbar ESI.

    Questions that may be helpful to ask your healthcare provider before you get a lumbar epidural steroid injection include:

    • How often do you perform lumbar ESIs?
    • What do I need to do to prepare for my lumbar ESI?
    • What are the risks of getting a lumbar ESI?
    • What will my lumbar ESI feel like?
    • How long will my lumbar ESI last?
    • If a lumbar ESI doesnt relieve my pain, what other options do I have?

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    Whats The Difference Between Epidural Analgesia And Epidural Anesthesia

    Analgesia is pain relief without losing consciousness and without complete loss of feeling or movement. Anesthesiologists use epidural analgesia for people who are in labor and are delivering a baby. They inject the epidural into your lower back to provide pain relief for the lower part of your body due to contractions and childbirth.

    Anesthesia is the loss of physical sensation with or without loss of consciousness. Epidural anesthesia itself wont cause a loss of consciousness, but if youre having a certain kind of surgery, your anesthesiologist may give you epidural anesthesia so you dont feel any pain or dont move during the surgery and a different medication to make you go to sleep .


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