Highly skilled pain management specialists have used epidural steroid injections for decades to help reduce the inflammation that can trigger significant nerve irritation and pain in the back, neck, arms, and legs. Despite the success of this pain management tool, however, many myths exist about what the injections can do and how they’re used to relieve your pain.
Todd Koppel, MD, is an interventional pain specialist practicing in Clifton, New Jersey — Garden State Pain Management. Dr. Koppel often includes epidural steroid injections as part of his treatment strategy for patients whose pain does not respond to traditional therapies.
Here are the facts you need to know about epidural steroid injections as an effective treatment for chronic back pain and sciatica.
Epidural Steroid Injections can provide long-term pain relief
Changes in the bony and soft tissue structures of your spine can result in compression or pinching of your nerves as they travel through or exit the spinal column. This often leads to inflammation and nerve irritation that may cause significant pain at the nerve root as well as pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the extremities associated with the nerve.
The epidural steroid injections Dr. Koppel provides contain an anesthetic for pain relief as well as depomethylpredisone, a long-acting steroid that helps reduce inflammation and nerve irritation.
Conditions that cause or are a result of nerve compression, and which may respond to epidural steroid injections, include:
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Bone spurs
- Narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis)
- Sciatica (radiculopathy)
Epidural Steroid Injections are safe
Certain individuals, such as pregnant women or people who take blood thinners, are not good candidates for these injections. You can expect a thorough exam and discussion of your medical history, current medication use, and other details before your procedure is scheduled.
When performed by a skilled specialist like Dr. Koppel, epidural steroid injections are a very safe treatment for chronic back pain and nerve irritation. Many patients have treatment under intravenous sedation, which makes the procedure entirely painless. Fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray imagery, is used to accurately guide the placement of the injection.
However, the treatment is so simple it can also be done with local anesthesia. In such cases, patients may notice a slight pressure sensation as the injection is delivered to the targeted region in your spinal canal. Patients tolerate the procedure quite well and most report little, if any, discomfort.
Dr. Koppel has performed thousands of these injections during his 20-plus years in practice and hasn’t noted any serious complications or adverse effects. The most common complaint is temporary soreness at the injection site.
Epidural steroid injections can improve your overall treatment outcome
The injections help reduce inflammation, swelling, and edema in the region. In some cases it is curative, but for others, such as spinal stenosis, it doesn’t necessarily fix the underlying condition that’s responsible for the pain. Nonetheless, epidural injections can provide long-term pain relief that can also improve the outcomes of patients partaking in a rehabilitation program. This can include physical therapy, manipulation, and other nonsurgical therapies for back pain.
By relieving your discomfort, epidural steroid injections can also reduce the financial, social, and emotional distress caused by chronic pain.
If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, schedule a visit at Golden State Pain Management today. You can rely on Dr. Koppel’s skill and experience to design a truly effective treatment plan. Call the office or book your appointment online.