What Is Epidural Injections? Essential Things You Need To Know

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Sometimes cases of herniated disc back pain  and other forms of pain associated with spinal problems will eventually heal; a  little rest, physical therapy and over the counter pain medication is all you  need.

But sometimes the back pain can be severe and debilitating. In those  cases, epidural injections may provide temporary pain relief needed while the  underlying condition is being treated with other therapies, or allowed to heal  on its own. Steroidal epidural injections also provide the benefit of reducing  inflammation, which contributes to herniated disc pain.

What Is Epidural Injections? Essential Things You Need To Know

What  is an Epidural Steroid Injection?

An epidural steroid injection delivers  anti-inflammatory pain medication via a syringe for fast pain relief. As the  name implies, the medication is injected into the epidural space around the  spinal cord. The epidural space is filled with fat and small blood vessels, and  surrounds the dural sac, which in turn surrounds the spinal cord, nerve roots  and cerebrospinal fluid.

Typically the solution injected is a  combination of a steroid, a local anesthetic, and saline. The steroid  (cortisone) provides anti-inflammatory action. One of two different local  anesthetics are commonly used: Lidocaine or Bupivacaine. Lidocaine is faster  acting, but Bupivacaine provides longer term pain relief. The saline may be  used in part to dilute the local anesthetic, and/or to flush out immunologic  agents that are promoting inflammation.

How  Long do the Effects Last?

The duration of the pain relief provided  can vary widely from patient to patient, depending on your condition. Some  experience pain relief for several days, while others experience extended  relief for several months.

How  Many Injections Can I Have?

It is common to receive a series of three  injections, spaced about two weeks apart. However, some patients experience  enough pain relief after the first injection that subsequent injections are not  needed at that time.

In the event that the full three injections  are received, you will have to wait six months to a year before you could  receive another series of injections.

What  are the Possible Side Effects?

Some patients may experience flushing,  sweating and heart palpitations for a few days after the injection. There may  also be a temporary increase of pain as the medication takes effect. Temporary  weight gain and an increase in blood sugars may also be experienced.Rare side effects include accidental  puncture of the dural sac, infection, and bleeding. In some cases no pain  relief is experienced after the injection.

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