Back and neck pain have a way of hijacking your life, limiting you in almost every way, making relief your main objective. While addressing the underlying cause of your pain is important, so, too, is finding long term relief. While medications may provide some respite, they are short-acting, which is why an epidural steroid injection may offer the best solution.
At Summit Pain Alliance, as our name suggests, our team specializes in the many musculoskeletal problems that can disrupt your life. As pain management specialists, our goal is to help you find meaningful relief so that you get on with the business of life. And when it comes to back and neck pain, that relief may be found in an epidural steroid injection (ESI).
To better acquaint you with this pain management technique, here’s a look at some of the myths and facts that surround the epidural steroid injection.
Epidural steroid injections at-a-glance
Before we dive into some of the facts and myths about ESIs, let’s take a quick look at this minimally invasive technique. An ESI is a procedure in which we inject a combination of a steroid and a local anesthetic into the epidural space along your spine. This space is filled with fat and it surrounds your dural sac, which protects your spinal cord and all of the nerves housed within.
Now that we have a better idea of the procedure itself, let’s take a look at some of the myths and facts about the ESI.
An ESI is for lower back pain only
Because “an epidural” is commonly associated with the primary pain management technique for women giving birth, many people believe that this procedure only works in the lower back. In point of fact, we can use this technique anywhere along your spine, including your neck. Many of our patients have problems in their cervical spine, which causes symptoms that radiate down their arms. With an ESI, we can address these symptoms, as well as the symptoms that affect your lower extremities.
Steroids are bad for you
Thanks to the abuse of steroids, many people assume that all steroids are bad for you, which is not the case. The steroids we use in an ESI play a critical role in reducing the inflammation that’s pressing on your nerves. And the amount we use is sufficient for this task alone. Steroids become problematic after prolonged use, which is not the case here.
ESIs are for chronic pain only
ESIs play a valuable role in how we treat both chronic and acute pain. For example, if you’re having an acute bout with sciatica, we can administer an ESI to provide you with immediate relief, which allows you time to address the issue through rehabilitative stretching and exercise.
And the same holds true for chronic pain. If you’re understandably wary about taking medications for long periods, an ESI can provide longer-term relief, which again allows you to address the underlying problem.
You only need one ESI
There’s no specific timeline for ESIs, nor are there the same results from one person to the next. For example, an ESI may provide one patient relief for a week, while another enjoys months, and even years, of pain-free movement.
And if we’re able to achieve encouraging results with one injection, but the problem isn’t entirely remedied, we may perform several ESIs to ensure we target the right area.
The bottom line is that there’s no one-size-fits-all outcome for patients, but we can report that the procedure is extremely successful, helping patients find much-needed relief from back and neck pain.
If you’d like to explore whether an epidural steroid injection is right for you, please contact one of our two locations in Santa Rosa or Petaluma, California, to set up an appointment.