Sciatica Pain Epidural steriod injections

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Epidural Injection as a Sciatica Pain Treatment

The epidural steroid injection is a treatment used for patients experiencing moderate to severe pain from sciatica. Typically, this treatment is used after conventional treatments have not been responsive including medications and physical therapy. Its purpose is to decrease inflammation and pain from the compressed sciatic nerve.

Sciatica Pain Treatments –Epidural Steroid Injections

Inflammation and irritation of the sciatic nerve can cause severe back pain and a variety of other unpleasant symptoms, ultimately referred to as sciatica pain. The use of epidural steroid injection as a sciatica pain treatment can be an effective pain-relief option for people who have tried other conservative treatment options but wish to avoid or prolong the need for surgical repair of the underlying condition.

Is Epidural Steroid Injection the Right Sciatica Pain Treatment for You?

Sciatica pain can be debilitating. The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body at 1” wide and it is actually made up of multiple nerve bundles. When the sciatic nerve becomes compressed, pain will radiate throughout the lower body, usually on one side. This can result in a numbing, tingling, weakness, cramping, or burning sensation in the person who is experiencing it. This condition is referred to as sciatica.

An epidural steroid injection may be recommended as a sciatica pain treatment if the pain is not otherwise responding favorably to medications, physical therapy or other conservative treatment attempts. The injection combines an anesthetic along with a cooling steroid to reduce inflammation. The injection is inserted into the epidural space so that the nerves passing through the medicated area will be relieved.

As with all injections, the risks of using an epidural steroid injection as a treatment for sciatica pain include allergic reactions, infection at the injection site, headache, or nerve damage.

The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes and the patient will be in recovery for about 45 minutes after that. The patient is placed face down on the table with a cushion for support under the hips to widen the vertebrae space. After anesthesia is administered, a needle is inserted between the vertebrae directly into the epidural space. A fluoroscope is used to guide the needle and contrast dye is added to confirm placement. Once appropriate placement is confirmed, the medication is then administered and the needle removed.

The epidural steroid injection is only a pain treatment and not intended to fix underlying spinal problems like fractures or herniated discs. The length of time the effect will last is dependent on the patient and the severity of the sciatica pain. In some people, the pain-relieving effects will last only one week, while in others they can last up to an entire year. Epidural steroid injections can be given up to three times per year. Some patients report feeling pain only a few days after the initial injection; however, this may be due to the anesthesia wearing off and the steroid not at full strength yet. The physician may prescribe medication until the steroid has had time to work and alleviate the sciatica pain.

At-a-Glance: Epidural Steroid Injection as a Sciatica Pain Treatment

  • A relatively pain-free injection used to reduce inflammation in the sciatic nerve and to treat sciatica pain
  • Epidural steroid injection can help patients continue progressing through physical therapy or chiropractic manipulation meant to overcome the underlying spine issue causing the sciatica pain
  • Performed  under x-ray guidance, epidural steroid injections are precise and effective for many patients suffering from sciatica pain.

Health Tips For Having Epidural Steroid Injection

  • Fasting for eight hours before an epidural steroid injection is usually advised
  • Be sure someone accompanies you to and from your appointment
  • Discuss any medications you are using with your spine health expert  to be sure you it is safe to undergo this procedure
  • It can take approximately three days before the full effects of an epidural steroid injection can be felt, but most people enjoy relief from a large portion of their sciatica pain right away

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