The dura mater, also called the dura, is the outermost layer of the three membranes covering and protecting your brain and spinal cord. An epidural space surrounds the dura mater. The epidural space has a lot of nerves traveling through it to your back and into your legs. Sometimes, a herniated disc or contact with any bony structure of your spine can inflame the spinal nerve roots in your epidural space. One of the treatments your doctor at Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine will likely recommend is epidural injections. Your doctor may utilize epidural injections alongside other conservative treatments like oral medications and physical therapy to help relieve your back pain.
Consequently, below are a few things you need to remember about epidural injections.
When you may need epidural injections
Your doctor will recommend epidural injections to relieve back pain if you have a herniated or bulging spinal disc pinching or exerting pressure on your adjacent nerves, resulting in pain. The minimally invasive treatment may also be useful if you have a spinal bone spur, spinal canal narrowing, failed back surgery syndrome, or injured spinal tissues.
For instance, spinal bone spurs may result from the natural process of wear and tear and age-related problems such as spinal stenosis, degeneration of the intervertebral disc, and spinal arthritis. Spinal arthritis may cause the thickening of ligaments in the spine, which causes pain and discomfort in your back.
When it may be risky to get epidural injections
Before subjecting you to epidural injections, your doctor will examine your medical history, ask a few questions about your health and lifestyle, and perform a few tests. That is done to ensure you are the right candidate for epidural injections.
An epidural injection may put you at more risk if you are allergic to anesthesia, have blood clotting disorders, have an active infection, and have uncontrolled or untreated diabetes.
If you are under any medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, or blood thinning, inform your doctor before treatment starts. Also, avoid using anti-inflammatory or pain relief medications on the day of getting epidural injections.
How epidural injections work
Often, injecting your epidural space with steroids takes less than 15 minutes.
During treatment, your doctor will inject different medications into your epidural space to create the desired effect. Corticosteroids, also known as steroids, are anti-inflammatory drugs that help reduce inflammation and nerve irritation. As a result, the affected nerve has adequate time to heal and recover, alleviating discomfort. The injected medication travels throughout the area outside the dural sac while coating nerve roots suffering from inflammation and irritation.
Therefore, it is possible to alleviate pain in your lower back and lower limbs through epidural injections.
You may only need one or a few sessions of epidural injections, and you may have permanent relief from pain. Still, you may require further injections if your desired effect is not long-lasting. If the pain persists after numerous injections, your doctor may recommend surgery or other alternative treatments. For example, if you have spinal narrowing, you may undergo a spinal decompression.