Epidural Shots for Back Pain

Back Surgery Information

Epidural Shots for Back Pain

Pain is more than just a sensation; it’s an indicator that something is wrong within the body. Pain, however, may vary in intensity and quality: some are just mild, some severe, some are dull and some are sharp. Yet one thing that’s definite about pain is that it causes discomfort; thus, it’s considered by health professionals as a patient problem that needs prompt attention. One of the most common pain sensations a person may feel is back pain. As a matter of fact, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, about eight (8) in ten (10) individuals experience back pain at a certain point in their life; that’s about a total estimate of 31 million people.

Recognizing the need to address back pain, medical science and even alternative medicine have identified different ways to manage it such as: physical therapy, diet, good posture, massages, and medications. In light of using medications to alleviate pain, for back pains which could not be handled by oral or even intravenous analgesics, the next stop would be epidural shots for back pain.

What are epidural shots for back pain?

Epidural shots for back pain or also called as epidural steroid injection is a type of procedure in managing pain. It is used to relieve low back problems and has long been used for such purpose since 1952. The term epidural refers to the area around the spinal cord.

How is the procedure done?

Prior to performing the procedure, the physician shall order that an imaging test be done (either a CT scan or MRI) on the back area. It is also important to note that the physician should have informed the patient regarding the benefits and risks of an epidural shot and he/she should have gained the consent of the patient prior to performing the procedure. The doctor might also provide a sedative to the patient if he/she is anxious. At times, sedation may not be necessary. The following are the steps in performing epidural shots for back pain:

Skin is prepped with an antiseptic and anaesthesia is injected to make it numb.

Physician inserts a needle, puncturing through the skin towards the spine.

Using an X-ray guided-machine or fluoroscope, the physician maneuvers the needles between the bones of the spine.

Physician confirms if the needle is in the epidural space (the space in the middle of the spine and the spinal cord) by using a contrast dye.

After the physician has confirmed that the needle is in the epidural space, he/she injects the corticosteroid solution.

Epidural shots for back pain is usually not very painful due to the anesthesia administered prior to injection. However, some individuals experience mild tenderness a few days post-procedure.

Important points to remember

Overall, epidural shots for back pain are safe. However, there are some points about it that should be given attention. It may take days before the medication may work: for some patients, relief of symptoms happen around 48-72 hours after the procedure. Since an anesthesia was applied, one is advised not to drive or operate any machine until the effect has worn off. The risks involved are: allergic reactions, infection and bleeding. Since the solution is a steroid, blood sugar levels may increase post-procedure, diabetic patients are advised to monitor their glucose levels. It is wise to contact the physician if any untoward situations happen.