In this article, we would be studying all about Epidural steroid injections (ESIs). This will help us get a clear and complete insight about these steroid injections.
An Epidural steroid injection is an injection of cortisone, long-lasting steroid, administered in the Epidural area. Epidural Area refers to the area that surrounds the spinal cord and the nerves coming out of the cord.
Epidural steroid injection or epidural injection is generally used to minimize the pain caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc ailment. These three spinal ailments are often the reasons behind pain observed in the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) areas of the body spine.
It has been scientifically proven that such injections minimize the inflammation and swelling of nerves in the Epidural Area. These relief activities help in reducing tingling, pain, numbness, and other symptoms due to swelling, nerve inflammation, and irritation. An ESI injection is mostly used in combination with an exhaustive rehabilitation program to offer additional benefits to the concerned patients.
An ESI Injection includes a mixture of local anesthetics such as bupivacine or lidocaine along with steroid medications such as triamcinolone – Aristocort® or methylprednisolone – Depo-medrol®, Celestone-Soluspan. The injection is administered via insertion of the medical needle through skin and deeper tissues. Even though there is very little pain associated with administering the ESI injection, a patient can ask the doctor to use the local anesthetics, intravenous sedation, or analgesia to reduce the pain further.
ESIs, that take only a few minutes for administering, are considered to be one of the most common options for varying forms of leg and low back pain. These injections have been administered to people with low back ailments since 1952. Furthermore, the usage of ESIs has been as an integral and important part in the non-surgical management of low back pain and sciatica.
It is believed that epidural injections are low-risk and non-surgical tools to help a patient stay healthy against problems such as radicular and back pain, which are caused by inflammation.
A patient who has just been administered an ESI injection may feel numbness and slightly heavy legs. This may last for a maximum period of one hour but the patient may feel a sore back for a day or two. Complete relief from pain can be expected after third day from the day when the injection was administered.
If a patient who has been administered with an epidural steroid injection complains of a painful headache while performing routine works such as walking, sitting or standing then he may rush to seek medical intervention as there can be a probability of dural puncture. Apart from that, a fever of 101 degrees or more for a period of time more than 24 hours should not be ignored as this may be a sign of infection.
It is always advisable for patients who have an allergy to any of the medications to be injected or who all are on a blood thinning medication or who have an active infection NOT to have the ESI injection. It is essential for a patient to take a MRI Scan before being administered with an epidural steroid injection to avoid the risk of being suffering from a painful tumor or infection.
A patient suffering from swelling of nerves in the epidural area or leg, low back pain can take a maximum of three ESI injections in a year. Though not definitive or to be taken as a standard rule for all, the limit of three injections is considered to be reasonable by doctors worldwide.