Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Epidural Steroid Injection

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Epidural Steroid Injection as a Treatment for Thoracic Pain

An epidural steroid injection as a treatment for thoracic pain is for those suffering from compressed or inflamed nerves in the mid-back and is used to decrease swelling and pain.

Thoracic Pain Treatment – Epidural Steroid Injection

When mid-back pain becomes too severe or when pain relief from other conservative treatment methods has failed, a thoracic epidural steroid injection is an option.

Epidural Steroid Injection as Treatment for Thoracic Pain

The epidural space in the spine encloses something called the dura -which is the membrane that covers the nerve roots. The nerves travel through the epidural space and leave through tiny nerve holes. A variety of conditions can cause those nerves to become damaged, irritated or inflamed.  A thoracic epidural steroid injection is a treatment used for severe mid-back pain. The injection combines an anesthetic and a steroid to help reduce inflammation. The injection is placed directly into the epidural space so the nerves must pass through the medicated area before exiting the nerve holes.

The epidural steroid injection as treatment for thoracic pain is for those patients who are not responding favorably enough to physical therapy, specific spine exercises, chiropractic care or medication. As with all anesthesia and medication there are risks, including allergic reaction, infection at the injection site, headache, or nerve damage. Be sure to discuss all of the potential benefits and risks with your spine health expert.

Administration of thoracic epidural steroid injections is performed by an expert BASIC anesthesiologist. At the beginning of the procedure, the patient will be comfortably positioned face-down on the treatment table with a cushion under the hip to open up the vertebrae space.  The anesthesiologist will locate the spine area in question and a local anesthetic is injected into the space. A fluoroscope is used to guide the anesthesiologist in accurately positioning the injection needle. Contrast dye is added to confirm the position within the epidural space before the medication is administered. The medication is a combination of anesthetic and a steroid to decrease the nerve inflammation that is causing the mid-back pain. Once the inflammation has been reduced, natural healing may begin. However, epidural steroid injections are not proposed as a thoracic pain cure. If the underlying cause of the pain is not also addressed, the pain a patient experiences may return. The length of time before the pain returns is determined by the severity of the thoracic pain and is based on each individuals unique set of circumstances as well as their overall pain threshold. Sometimes patients have complained of pain only a couple of days after injection. This is due to the anesthesia wearing off and the steroid not having enough time to begin working. The physician may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medication until the injection effects can be felt. The benefits of an epidural steroid injection as a treatment for thoracic pain can last anywhere from one week up to one year, depending on the patient. These injections can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes other conservative back pain treatment options and can be administered up to three times per year.

Using an epidural steroid injection as the treatment for thoracic pain can improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic and debilitating mid-back pain.

At-a-Glance: Epidural Steroid Injections

  • The fullest pain relief is usually felt within 3-5 days after injection
  • It may take up to three appointments to experience the fullest mid-back pain relief
  • Most patients feel the fullest relief from thoracic pain in only one or two epidural steroid injection appointments
  • Epidural steroid injection takes about 30 minutes with an additional 45 minutes spent in recovery.

Tips For Epidural Steroid Injection

  • Be sure a loved one accompanies you to the epidural steroid injection appointment as a local anesthetic will be given
  • Rest for at least one day after the procedure
  • Avoid strenuous activity for a few days after the injection
  • Keep a journal of pain relief to share with the physician so effectiveness can be monitored

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