Do you suffer from chronic back pain? If so, it might be time to consider an epidural steroid injection. Epidural steroid injections allow your doctor to apply powerful, anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing medication directly into your areas of discomfort. Steroid injections are not a first line of treatment for pain, but they are used to help people combat pain who have tried other options to no avail. And even though they’re not the first-used option for pain, the injections are commonly used and can provide immense pain relief. These nine epidural steroid injection videos provide more information about this procedure.
Epidural steroid injection videos: The basics
Steroid injections contain corticosteroids, which are designed to resemble cortisol, a naturally occurring hormone in the body. Steroids contained in the injection are not the same that bodybuilders use to gain muscle mass. Instead, they’re designed specifically to help people reduce chronic pain symptoms. The powerful medications go right to work when injected. They can combat the inflammation that’s a significant source of pain for many people.
In addition to inflammation-fighting compounds, the steroid injections contain a local anesthetic that works to interfere with signals irritated nerves send out, stopping them from telling the body that it’s in pain. This potent, one-two punch strikes at the very source of pain and can bring immediate relief. The procedures take around 15 minutes.
Watch a procedure take place live in the first of our epidural steroid injection videos. In a minute, you’ll learn the basics behind this procedure and watch one being performed.
For more in-depth coverage, as well as an interview with a back pain patient, check out our second epidural steroid injection video, which clocks in closer to five minutes. This classic video walks you through a procedure for a patient who was suffering from herniated disc pain.
Because the injected steroid stays locally, injections create far fewer side effects than steroids taken orally, which the entire body absorbs. With epidural steroid injections, the powerful, pain-relieving medication stays only where it’s needed, making the treatment efficient and effective.
Epidural steroid injection benefits
Steroid injections may help patients experiencing pain from a range of causes, including neck pain, sciatica, back pain, and osteoarthritis. Pain from spinal conditions such as degenerative discs, fractured vertebrae, or infections may also diminish after treatment with a steroid injection. Patients experiencing what’s known as radicular pain may also benefit from an epidural steroid injection. This type of pain is caused by irritated spinal nerves located in the lower back.
The following epidural steroid injection videos cover the two types of chronic pain conditions that are most often treated with injections: back pain and sciatica.
As this video explains, the back is made of four regions: the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral. Steroid injections can be given into any of these areas, but the most common types are cervical epidural steroid injections and lumbar epidural steroid injections.
A complex structure of muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, and intervertebral discs make up your back. Muscle and ligaments strain is the most common causes of pain, usually caused by heavy and improper lifting, awkward movements, poor posture and muscle spasms. Other risk factors include:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Strenuous activity
- Repetitive movements
Issues that cause back pain include disc herniation, bulging disc, sciatica, osteoarthritis, scoliosis and osteoporosis. Sciatica, in particular, can be well treated with epidural steroid injections. The next of our epidural steroid injection videos gives a brief overview of this condition.
Finally, epidural steroid injections are also often used to treat chronic neck pain. The following video talks about the basics behind this pain condition.
Types of epidural steroid injections
A pain specialist will help you determine which type of injection is best suited for you, depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing and any underlying conditions. Pain specialists begin with a thorough evaluation to discuss the types of pain you’re having and the types of treatments you’ve already tried.
As noted, you may hear epidural steroid injections talked about in location-specific ways. A lumbar epidural steroid injection is one that is done in the lumbar portion of the spine. A cervical epidural steroid injection, on the other hand, takes place in the cervical area.
There are also several different techniques for applying this procedure:
- Caudal epidural steroid injection
- Transforaminal epidural steroid injection
- Interlaminar epidural steroid injection
Your doctor will help you determine which would work best for you based on your condition, symptoms, and overall physical health. These treatments are generally safe, but every medical procedure has risks. Possible complications include allergic reaction, weight gain, and diminished immune response.
Cervical epidural steroid injection video
The cervical spine refers to the vertebrae supporting the neck. Spinal issues here can cause neck or back pain, and a cervical steroid injection is used to alleviate related discomfort, although people suffering from headaches may also find relief. This injection may also help people find relief from cervical radiculitis, a condition of nerve compression in the neck that causes pain to spread down the arms.
Similar to a caudal steroid injection, the cervical epidural steroid injection is placed into the epidural space, but this time in the cervical spine. The injection contains a steroid and local anesthetic to reduce inflammation and interfere with pain-causing nerve signals.
Studies show patients respond well to the simple, quick procedure. A study in Skeletal Radiology found 72% of patients experienced effective pain relief. While some patients experience long-lasting relief with just one injection, others need three to six per year to experience optimal results.
The next of our epidural steroid injection videos covers a cervical epidural steroid injection, which is typically used to treat chronic neck pain or head pain. It can also help with:
- Cervical radiculitis
- Bulging discs
- Cervical spinal stenosis
Caudal injections are inserted into the epidural space near the tailbone. This method allows for larger quantities of medication to be delivered, and is suitable for patients who require larger dosages. This type of steroid injection may help patients experiencing low back pain from sciatica, herniated or bulging discs, or degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis, which is pain resulting from a narrowing spinal canal that pinches surrounding nerves.
Caudal steroid injections are inserted into the epidural space near the tailbone, by the sacrum, directly targeting lower back pain. Epidural space refers to the area directly outside the vertebrae that contains not only fat and blood vessels, but also the root of pain-causing nerves.
Lower back pain is one of the most common causes of chronic pain, and also one of the most difficult to treat. Caudal steroid injections are an effective way to help people manage pain.
Interlaminar epidural steroid injection
This type of injection is placed into the midline of the back, in between the spinal processes, which are the bony portions of vertebrae that stick out from the central spinal column. Because the injection is placed into the midline, the medicine is able to spread to nerves on both sides of the spine.
Transforaminal epidural steroid injection
With this type of steroid injection, the needle is inserted into the side of the vertebrae. Because it directly targets the affected nerve, it’s generally more specific and targeted. It also helps to avoid any foreign objects, such as pins or screws that may be in the spine from previous surgeries. The next of our epidural steroid injection videos shows how this procedure takes place in a patient suffering from lumbar back pain.
Towards comprehensive pain management
Many patients experience rapid pain relief after receiving an epidural steroid injection. Patients who don’t receive the full desired benefit may be good candidates for a second injection. Some patients opt for a treatment series of three epidural steroid injections. These injections are widely considered to be very safe and are commonly given. However, risks include bleeding, infection, headaches, or nerve damage. Likewise, the duration of relief varies by patient. Some enjoy pain reduction for years while others experience only short-term relief.
While these procedures can and do help patients reduce pain, they’re just one tool in the fight against pain. Dr. Paul Lynch explains in this epidural steroid injection video how these injections can be used in the safest and most efficacious way for patients. This includes trying other treatment options first, like chiropractic care or physical therapy, before attempting this more invasive procedure.
Pain doctors use multiple therapies to help patients. This is what is considered comprehensive pain management. A part of that can be interventional pain management–the use of injections or other outpatient procedures–for more chronic or severe types of pain. It helps bridge the gap between therapies like exercise or physical therapy with more extreme treatments, like surgery. Two pain doctors discuss what interventional pain management is and how it can help you reduce pain.
Epidural steroid injections can be a great option if you suffer from pain, but don’t want to undergo surgery. Ready to learn even more about this procedure? Check out PainDoctor.com for news and research about epidural steroid injections.