For over 60 years, epidural steroid injections have been a mainstay in pain management. There is a reason why, and that is because they have consistently shown to provide benefit. Yes, there have been studies showing lack of effectiveness. But those showing benefit significantly outweigh those studies.
An epidural injection is not meant for back pain. It is intended for extremity pain, such as from a pinched nerve in the neck or back resulting in sciatica or radiculopathy. This pain is burning, searing, electrical in nature, and may be disabling. It may lead to pins and needles, numbness and potentially motor weakness.
If your Los Angeles pain management doctor decides to perform an epidural steroid injection, here is what to expect. The injection does not cure your problem It will hopefully provide pain relief, restore sensation and muscle function, by basically bathing the pinched nerve with soothing anti-inflammatory steroid material.
The hope is that while the symptoms are reduced and life becomes more tolerable after the injection, your body is actually working to disintegrate the piece of disc that is pushing on the nerve root.
Having said that, the procedure is performed as an outpatient. IV sedation is not mandatory, it may be used for those with claustrophobia or anxiety. You will be placed into a prone position, which means on your abdomen.
The pain management doctor in Los Angeles will most likely use image guidance, such as ultrasound or a fluoroscopy machine, which is a real time form of x-ray.
The skin and soft tissues down to the spine are numbed up. There are 3 different ways of performing an epidural injection, and your pain doctor will choose the method that works best for you pinched nerve location and the symptoms being experienced.
The procedure itself takes 15 to 30 minutes. When the pain doctor reaches the desired position with the needle, he or she will inject contrast material to ensure satisfactory position. If good to go, then the numbing medicine and steroid is injected.
Once completed, you will be monitored for 30 to 60 minutes to make sure vital signs are stable and no allergic reaction occurs.
The risks of the procedure are low but real. They may include infection, bleeding, nerve injury (usually transient), or allergic reaction to the anesthesia or medication used. In addition, you may have a transient increase in blood sugars secondary to the steroid or some facial flushing or slight weight gain. This is usually temporary.
The results of epidural injections have been quite impressive. Studies overall have shown between a 75% to 90% effectiveness for satisfactory pain relief. This may entail a series of injections, performed 2 weeks apart for a series of 3. The series may allow for an impressive pain relief.
If the pain relief wears off, the series may be repeated every few months. A landmark study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the results of epidural injections are equivalent to surgical outcomes at the one year point time frame.
If you live in the Greater Los Angeles or Santa Monica areas and are suffering from sciatica, pain relief is available with the California Pain Network. The California Pain Network connects individuals in pain with pain management clinics in Los Angeles and Santa Monica areas.
Simply fill out the contact form on this page, or call (310) 626-1526 today for assistance!