If your chronic back or sciatic pain is the result of inflamed tissues, joints, and nerves, an epidural steroid injection or other spinal injection offers safe and effective relief.
At The Spine and Sports Center, nationally-recognized physician Benoy Benny, MD, specializes in spinal pain management and the latest interventional treatments. With offices in The Galleria, Sugar Land and Cyfair/Willowbrook areas in Houston, TX, he is experienced in providing a variety of management options for chronic sciatic and back pain, including epidural steroid injections.
How epidural steroid injections help
Technically called epidural steroid injections (ESIs), but commonly called epidurals, these shots inject medication that reduces the pain and inflammation in your epidural space, hence the name. This is the outermost portion of your spinal canal, and it houses the nerve roots near your spine.
You may be thinking that your spine is no place to stick a needle, and you’re right. In the wrong hands, this procedure can be dangerous. But Dr. Benny, who is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with fellowship training in Interventional spine and sports medicine, has alleviated back pain for countless patients with epidural injections.
During the procedure, he uses X-ray imaging to guide the delivery of precise amounts of anti-inflammatory, anesthetic, and steroid medication to the area generating your pain. Once in place, this medicine can help reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation around your spinal nerve roots as well as other damaged nerves in the area.
Your epidural injection should start working within a few days, but it may take up to a week. This technique isn’t a permanent solution for pain, but epidural steroid injections can provide relief for months or longer, which allows you plenty of time to heal without pain and improve to get you back in the game and your normal activities.
When epidural steroid injections help
It’s important to know that epidural steroid injections won’t help relieve all types of back pain. For instance, if you have a strain or sprain, there are other treatments better suited for your condition. But if you have pain stemming from the nerves in your spine, you may be a prime candidate for an epidural.
Here are a few of the conditions that might benefit from epidural steroid injections:
- Bone spurs
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Failed back surgery syndrome, especially with chronic back or leg pain
- Injuries to your vertebrae, spinal nerves, or surrounding tissues
In general, we begin with the most conservative treatments possible to help reduce and manage your pain. We start with physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) first. If these don’t result in significant improvement, we move to epidural steroid injections among other injections as the next level of treatment.
The rare risks involved with epidural steroid injections
Epidural steroid injections are considered safe and effective and have been used for decades to relieve pain. However, like any drug, they do come with a few possible side effects and risks. In rare cases — less than 1% — corticosteroid injections have caused infection and injured nerves or blood vessels. However, this complication can generally be avoided by choosing a qualified and experienced health professional, such as Dr. Benny.
The primary risk associated with ESIs is not physician error, but overuse of the treatment. Too much corticosteroid medication can cause:
- Weakening of bone, cartilage, and muscle
- Thinning of the skin or soft tissue at the injection site
- Hair loss
- Facial flushing
- High blood sugar
- Hormone imbalance
In proper quantities and under the right care, epidurals are very safe. This is why we carefully monitor and limit your doses and their frequency.
When you’re ready for relief from your chronic back or sciatic pain, come in for a consultation. We would love to meet you and help you finally solve your back pain problem. Call us at The Spine and Sports Center or schedule an appointment online today.