What’s causing your pain?
Not all back pain is created equally. Some pain is due to damaged or herniated discs in the spine. Between each vertebra are fibrous discs that help with movement and shock absorption. Over time, the discs degenerate or can shift out of place. Damaged discs press on surrounding nerves causing pain, numbness, and weakness. The resulting inflammation can also lead to conditions like sciatica or spinal stenosis. These conditions can benefit from a range of non-surgical and surgical treatments.
How an ESI can help
An epidural steroid injection (ESI) places a combination of steroids and anesthetic in the epidural space. The epidural space is located between the spinal column and the vertebrae wall. This space contains fat, tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. A surgeon, doctor, or anesthesiologist injects medication in this space using a special X-ray called fluoroscopy. The procedure is minimally invasive and has several benefits, especially when combined with physical therapy.
Immediate pain relief
An ESI can provide immediate relief from the pain created by spinal conditions. The steroid can help reduce inflammation while the anesthetic reduces pain. Some patients find relief almost immediately after the procedure. This relief can last for several months and can improve the quality of life.
Supporting physical therapy
Physical therapy is an important part of reducing pain and discomfort from spinal conditions. A combination of stretches and strength exercises boost the surrounding muscles. These muscles can support the spine, relieving pain. However, patients with chronic pain struggle to complete a physical therapy regimen. Since an ESI reduces pain, patients can now engage better with the physical therapist. As a result, exercising becomes easier, and therapists achieve more successful outcomes.
There are several surgical options to reduce the pain caused by damaged discs. A surgeon can remove part or all of the disc. Others can perform spinal fusions. These procedures are all last resort if non-surgical treatment fails. Physical therapists have found that an ESI can delay surgery so patients can work on physical health. In some cases, steroid injections can help patients avoid surgery altogether. Epidural injections give therapists the additional bandwidth to support the patient without the risks involved with surgery.
Try your ESI
An epidural steroid injection can significantly reduce pain and lasts for several months. Sometimes, patients need further treatment. Some doctors recommend no more than 3 injections per year. ESI can relieve pain but also help patients perform better during physical therapy. Each year, physical therapists see many patients improve with a combination of physical therapy and epidural injections.