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Spinal Epidural Injection for Neck or Back Pain

What Are Epidural Injections?

An epidural injection refers to the insertion of a needle and injection of medication into your spine’s epidural space. This space is located between the outermost tissue layer and the inside surface of bone that makes up the spinal column. By targeting this area and injecting a special anti-inflammatory steroid medication into your spine, you may experience temporary relief from back and/or neck pain.

Your physician may recommend these injections along with taking anti-inflammatory medications and performing physical therapy exercises.

Who Is A Candidate?

Epidural spinal injections can be used in back and neck pain management. Examples of conditions treated with these injections include:

  • An acute episode of back pain, such as after an injury
  • A herniated or bulging disc, where the cushion-like disc between a vertebrae slips out of place
  • Spinal stenosis, where your spinal column narrows, placing greater pressure on your spinal nerves
  • Sciatica, a condition that places pressure on the sciatic nerve that travels from your lower back down your legs
  • Chronic pain following back surgery

 

While the injections are often used to treat lower back pain, they can also be applied to treat pain in the neck and mid-back regions.

You should always discuss the medications you are taking with your physician. This is especially true if you are taking blood thinners such as warfarin, naproxen, heparin, ibuprofen or clopidogrel. Your physician may recommend you refrain from taking these medications for a few days to minimize your bleeding risk following the injection.

The Procedure

To ensure your physician targets the correct area of your spine, your physician will use imaging scans to pinpoint the exact area for the medication to be delivered. Your miVIP Surgery Centers physician will cleanse the area for the needle to be inserted and apply a numbing cream to minimize discomfort.

The medication will then be injected into your epidural space. This is a mixture of several medications, including a cortisone steroid that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent; lidocaine or another numbing medication; and saline, which helps to flush out proteins and chemicals in the epidural space that can contribute to pain. The injection typically takes a matter of seconds. You may feel some discomfort, such as a “pins and needles” tingling sensation in your arms and legs. Your physician may ask you to wait 10 to 15 minutes before leaving the office to ensure you do not experience any adverse side effects.

Procedure Risks

Epidural injections have been performed for many years with few side effects. However, it is possible to experience complications, and it’s important to consider these risks when determining if epidural injections are right for you. Potential side effects include:

  • Dizziness, headache or nausea
  • Nerve root damage that can increase leg pain
  • Infection around the spinal canal
  • Allergic reaction to the medication
  • Bleeding around the spinal column

Epidural Injection Results

Epidural injections are not a curative procedure, but instead help to control pain. The medication may take two to three days to reach its full effect. The injection is considered a short-term pain relief measure. Some patients may experience pain relief for one week while others can feel the effects for one year.

While these injections can relieve pain, they cannot be administered too frequently. This is because excessive amounts of steroids can contribute to weakness in your joints or muscles, which can lead to injury. Most physicians do not recommend performing more than two to three injections per year as a means of minimizing these risks.

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