03 Jul Epidural Injections as a Treatment for Sciatica Pain
Sometimes sciatica symptoms can be confused with general lower back pain, but the cause is more complicated. Sciatica pain is caused by damage to the sciatic nerve from a slipped or torn spinal disc. It can cause pain while sitting, walking, and running, severely limiting what patients are able to do independently. It can be frustrating when traditional pain medications and rehabilitation methods fail to relieve your symptoms. Epidural injections are able to stop your sciatica pain at the source, the spinal discs. It is a nerve blocker that is injected directly into the damaged spinal disc, stopping the pain signals from being sent from that area.
What are Epidural Injections?
An epidural steroid injection is a nonsurgical procedure that can help relieve pain in your joints and spine caused by inflamed nerves. The injection is delivered into the space between your vertebrae called the epidural space. This space is a fat-filled cushion to protect your spinal discs from rubbing against each other and crushing vital nerves. Steroid injections have been proven to reduce inflammation, reducing pain in an injured area. These injections do not heal the spinal disc, but reduce the inflammation in the area, relieving the pressure on nerves causing pain. Steroids can cause weight gain, mood swings, and insomnia in some patients. People with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease should discuss with a doctor if this procedure is safe for them.
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. It runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the legs, ending just below the knee. It also supplies sensation to the foot and the majority of the lower leg. Sciatica is not a medical condition or syndrome, but a symptom of the sciatic nerve being compressed. A slipped disc is the most common reason a person will experience sciatica, and the most common area to slip a disc is in your lower back. This happens when the cushioning around the spinal disc ruptures, and the soft nerve tissue is exposed. The main symptom is a shooting pain anywhere along the sciatic nerve, like the lower back, through the buttock, and down the back of either leg. Other common symptoms of sciatica include numbness in the leg along the nerve and a tingling sensation in the feet and toes. Most cases of sciatica can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications, hot and cold compresses, and light exercises. In the worst cases, a patient will require a disc surgery or stronger pain medications like opioids.
How Can Epidural Injections Treat My Sciatica Pain?
Epidural corticosteroid injections have been safely used as a non-surgical treatment method of sciatica for nearly 50 years, and continue to be widely used in everyday clinical practice. They work by reducing the inflammation in the disc causing sciatic nerve pain and blocking the pain signals from being sent to the brain. It is a great method of pain management for patients wishing to avoid invasive surgeries.