Epidural Steroid Injection Denver
Lower back pain might start as a minor twinge you can ignore, but over time, it can worsen and affect every part of your life. If you’re constantly wincing in pain, you might find it hard to work, exercise, play with your kids, or even do simple chores around the house.
If you’re tired of dealing with chronic inflammation and pain in your spinal nerves, you may be a good candidate for epidural steroid injections. Learn what to expect when you schedule an epidural steroid injection in Denver.
What Are Epidural Steroid Injections?
Doctors use epidural steroid injections to ease tough-to-treat pain in your lower back, arms, and legs. During the procedure, your doctor will inject a corticosteroid into the epidural area, a fat-filled area that covers your spinal cord.
This injection decreases inflammation in your back and delivers targeted pain relief precisely where you need it. However, epidural steroid injections don’t treat underlying conditions, so your doctor may also recommend physical therapy or other treatments.
Epidural injections are one method of treating pain in the short term, and the results are different for everyone. Generally, you can expect relief for three to six months.
An epidural steroid injection in Denver can provide fast relief from pain due to causes like:
- A bone spur
- Slipped vertebrae
- Herniated discs
- Spinal arthritis
- Joint cysts
- Spinal stenosis
- Cervical radiculopathy
What Happens During the Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure?
The epidural steroid injection procedure is fairly simple, and most patients recover very quickly. Prior to the procedure, your doctor will give you a local anesthetic. You can also ask for a mild sedative if you feel anxious, but most people don’t need it.
Your doctor may use X-ray or fluoroscopic imaging guidance to help them deposit the medication in the right place. They will also inject contrast dye to help them better see the treatment area.
Next, your doctor will inject the steroid medication into your epidural area. After the procedure, you should notice relief within one to three days, although the medication can take up to a week to have an effect on some people.
If you feel no better after a week, talk to your doctor. This could mean that your pain comes from somewhere else and requires a different kind of treatment.
What Risks Do Epidural Steroid Injections Carry?
Epidural steroid injections are very safe. The most common side effect is a headache, which can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days. Any over-the-counter pain medicine should clear it up.
Other side effects could include:
- Sleeping problems
- Water retention
- Flushing in the face and chest
- Rarely, a temporary increase in pain until the medication starts to work
Serious side effects are rare but can include:
- Nerve damage
- Allergic reaction
Call Us To Learn if You’re a Candidate for Epidural Steroid Injections
If you suffer from hard-to-treat pain in your arms, legs, or lower back, epidural steroid injections could be perfect for you. To learn more about the procedure or schedule an epidural steroid injection in Denver, call MD Pain at (303) 750-8100.
Frequently Asked Questions
The purpose of an epidural steroid injection is to reduce the swelling and inflammation of irritated nerves as they leave the spinal cord. Irritated nerves can cause symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness, or loss of strength.
The actual injection only takes a few minutes. You can expect to be in the procedure room for about 15 minutes for positioning, placing monitors, preparation, and the procedure.
The injection usually consists of the corticosteroid (methylprednisolone, triamcinolone, celestone) and a local anesthetic (lidocaine or bupivicaine).
Most patients tolerate the injection very well. Numbing medicine is placed under the skin that feels like a poke and a burn. After that, you most likely will only feel pressure. If you feel any pain during the injection, more numbing medicine can be given. If you choose, you may have intravenous sedation to help you relax.
You will be lying on your stomach on an x-ray table. We will monitor your blood pressure, heart rhythm, and blood oxygen. Your skin will be cleansed with an antiseptic. After the injection, you will be placed on a bed and moved to the recovery area.
You may or may not feel better immediately after the injection and your legs or arms may feel slightly heavy or numb. The numbing medicine injected can wear off after several hours. You may have a sore back or neck for several days after the injection. This is due to the needle insertion as well as the chemically irritating effect of the steroid. The steroid is a long and slow acting medication that can take up to 5 days before starting to work and up to 2 weeks before taking full effect.
We recommend that you limit strenuous physical activity the day of the injection. You will bring someone with to drive you home the day of the injection. There is absolutely no driving the day of the injection. You may go about your normal daily activities as tolerated excluding strenuous physical activity.
The effect of the steroid can last anywhere from several days to several months. The purpose of the injection is to decrease swelling and inflammation to decrease pain. Over time, your body may heal itself.
If the first injection does not relieve your symptoms after two weeks, a second injection may be recommended. If the second injection doesn’t relieve your symptoms after an additional two weeks, a third injection may be recommended. The effects of the injections are additive if spaced at these time intervals. We generally would not perform more than 3 epidural steroid injections in a 6-month time period. More than this may increase the steroid load in your body increasing the likelihood of suffering from side effects. If 3 injections did not provide a lasting benefit, it is unlikely that any further epidural steroid injections would provide further benefit.
Overall, epidural steroid injections have about a 60% success rate and treating pain. Your chance of improvement will be better if your pain is less than 6 months old, is more in your legs or arms than back, and you have not had previous back surgery.
Overall, the procedure is very safe. As with any procedure, there are risks. The most common side effect is pain, which is temporary. Any time a needle is punctured through the skin, there is a chance of bleeding or infection that is very rare. Other rare side effects include spinal headache, nerve damage, worsening of pain, etc., which are extremely unlikely
If you are allergic to corticosteroids, specific local anesthetics, or ionic contrast, please notify your physician. Also, if you are taking any blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix, Warfarin, Lovenox, Aspirin) please let your physician know ahead of time to help devise a safe plan for the injection.