Is an Epidural an Effective Treatment for Back Pain?

Back pain has the power to negatively impact every moment of your day due to pain and discomfort. For those who experience back pain, they know that relieving the pain effectively is critical to quality of life. There are several treatment options available, including medication and physical therapy. Epidural steroid injections may be an effective treatment for you if exercises and oral medication aren’t making a significant difference. These injections are typically approached as an option to try before giving surgery more serious consideration.

How do epidurals for back pain work?

Epidural injections are highly targeted, which is why they are often so effective. Medication—most commonly an epidural steroid injection with a numbing medication like marcaine—is injected around the nerve that is causing pain. Injections are fairly painless. A local anesthetic or IV sedation can be used to help you relax and numb the skin in the area of injection.

Injections don’t always work, but when they do, it’s common to see a 50% to 80% improvement. This relief could last just a few days, or for many months. In highly successful cases, these injections can provide relief for up to a year! You can repeat the injection, though it’s recommended to have no more than three injections in a one year time frame. This is not a hard and fast rule, however, and surgeons tend to differ in their opinions on this matter.

Are there any risks associated with epidurals for back pain?

>Epidurals are considered very safe, but as with any medical procedure, there are a few risks. These risks include infection, damage to the nerve root and possibly a wet tap, where the needle penetrates cerebral spinal fluid, resulting in an intense headache. Patients who are experiencing back pain due to a tumor or an already existing infection should avoid receiving an epidural.

The final word on epidurals

Epidurals make sense to try if you are in a lot of pain but are not ready for surgery. It’s a simple procedure, takes very little time and if it works, it has high impact results. It can dramatically improve your quality of life if you’re in pain.
Do you have questions about epidurals? Contact us to learn more.