What is an epidural for back pain injection?
Epidural injections can help to relieve pain from a range of spinal conditions; from spinal stenosis to sciatica and a herniated cervical disc.
Many spinal conditions can create pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, and, as a result of this pressure, you may feel pain, numbness or pins and needles along the spinal nerves.
If you have severe or chronic back pain and/or leg pain from sciatica, an epidural injection can be given to offer pain relief. The injection itself involves injecting drugs, such as local anaesthetics and steroids, into an area called the epidural space which is around and below the spinal cord.
The local anaesthetic drugs affect the nerves to reduce your pain, whilst the steroids reduce inflammation and may make the pain relief last longer.
What types of epidural injections are available?
There are various types of epidural injection. The epidural injection that’s right for you will be decided based on where the injection needs to be given (see figure 1).
Depending on the cause of your problem, an epidural injection may be used in the lower back (lumbar), mid spine (thoracic) or in the neck (cervical). It can also be used to alleviate pain in the lowest part of your spine (caudal).Your consultant will discuss which type of epidural injection is best for you.
What are the benefits of an epidural injection?
If you’ve been living with chronic back pain, an epidural injection can provide short-term pain relief and reduce the inflammation in your back. This will enable you to move around more freely and to perform your day-to-day activities with ease.
An epidural injection is also very quick; it usually only takes about 15 minutes.
What complications can happen?
Although unlikely, sometimes complications can occur. These may include:
- Failure of the epidural
- Worsening pain
- Low blood pressure
- Problems emptying the bladder
- Temporary leg or arm weakness
- Infection around the spine
- Short-term nerve injury
- Long-term nerve injury
- Blood clot in the spine
An epidural injection usually provides an effective form of pain relief. If you’ve been dealing with persistent pain and are looking for an alternative to surgery, then this type of treatment can offer temporary or prolonged pain relief. Not only can it help to improve your pain, but it can also give you a better ability to carry out your daily activities.