Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections: How Effective Are They?

People who are suffering from lower leg pain and lower back pain can benefit from a Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection. This injection is meant to manage pain that occurs when the nerve roots are inflamed. Also, it can improve function and mobility in the patient’s lower back and legs. It puts anti-inflammatory medicine into a particular area in the epidural space of the spine.  

Typically, lumbar epidural injections are used for treating conditions that cause inflammation or irritation of spinal nerve roots that can be accompanied by pain in the lower back and leg. The injections can usually treat lumbar herniated discs, lumbar spinal stenosis, sciatica, and lumbar degenerative disc disease. 

What to Expect During the Procedure?

The procedure starts with administering relaxation medication. The patient will lie on their side and the doctor will use sterile scrubs to scrub the skin. Then, numbing medication is injected into the skin area where the surgeon administers the epidural injection. While allowing the numbing medication to be effective the doctor will direct a small needle into the epidural space and inject a small amount of contrast to make sure the needle is positioned properly. 

How Epidural Steroid Injections Benefit Patients

Epidural injections can benefit patients who have acute episodes of back and leg pain. But, the pain relief it offers is only temporary, which ranges from one week to a year. Often, doctors will give up to three injections every year. 

Administering the injection in the epidural space can alleviate pain and inflammation in the nerve. This is because steroids can reduce the production of body chemicals that cause inflammation and minimize the pain sensitivity of nerve fibers, generating a reduced amount of pain signals. As the injection offers pain relief, the patient limits their intake of oral medication that may have side effects when taken for a long time. Also, because of sufficient pain relief from the injection, the patient can continue or re-engage in physical therapy. Sometimes, they may be able to postpone their surgery. 

Epidural steroid injections must not be administered to those with an infection or bleeding issues. They may slightly elevate blood pressure levels in those who have diabetes. Those who are considering these injections must discuss their risks with their doctors. In addition, patients must schedule a follow-up appointment with their treating doctor to document the injection’s efficacy and address concerns they may have. 

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