03 Dec Understanding Epidural Injections
Epidural injections are a great alternative to surgical intervention for those suffering from lower back or leg pain. Epidural injections are minimally invasive procedures that can help to greatly reduce pain and get patients back to a good quality of life. Lower back pain is a common complaint as people age. Unfortunately, the main treatments tend to be pain killers or surgery. Epidural injections offer patients an alternative to surgery and hope for a better tomorrow.
Epidural injections are performed by delivering steroids directly into the spaces in the spine. Typically, the patient’s skin is numbed with lidocaine, and the needle is inserted into the spine. In some cases, the patient may be lightly sedated to help with any discomfort. The process as a whole is short and should take between 20 to 30 minutes. Ideal candidates are those who have symptoms of disc herniation, sciatica, nerve root compression, and inflammation of the spine.
Recovery time is relatively quick for those patients undergoing epidural injections. This is also a reason epidural injections are preferable to surgery. Patients are typically monitored for 20 to 60 minutes after the injections before being released to go home. While rest is recommended the day of the injections, patients are able to resume normal activities the following day.
Typically, epidural injections are most effective when combined with some form of physical therapy. The injections are long-lasting and in some cases, may prevent the need for surgery. Most patients feel the full effect of epidural injections, with one to two injections performed over one to four weeks. While multiple appointments may be inconvenient, epidural injections are largely preferred over surgery. Along with a quicker recovery time than surgery, epidural injections also present far fewer risks. Infrequent side effects include spinal headache, infection, bleeding, nerve damage, or paralysis. However, when epidural injections are performed by an experienced professional, these side effects are very rare.
In the past, most people treated lower back pain with pain medication or surgery. However, as research has advanced, more and more alternative treatments have become available. Pain medication can lead to addiction, and in the long term, becomes less effective as patients build up a tolerance to the medication. Surgery comes with a long list of risks, a long recovery time, and is not guaranteed to fix the pain requiring surgery in the first place.
Epidural injections are a great alternative for surgery for those patients who are candidates. The procedure is outpatient, and patients can be in and out of the office within a couple of hours. There should be some level of pain relief that is noticeable immediately and continues to get better with follow up appointments and physical therapy treatment. Lower back pain is, unfortunately, a reality for many people as they age. Our bodies break down throughout the years, and pain is the result. Pain can feel overwhelming and greatly diminish a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments to pain that are more effective than and do not carry the same risk as pain pills or surgical interventions.