About Epidural Injection
Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are a common treatment option for many forms of lower back pain and leg pain. They have been used for decades and are considered an integral part of the nonsurgical management of sciatica and lower back pain.
The injection is named an epidural steroid injection because it involves injecting a local anesthetic and a steroid medication directly into the epidural space that surrounds the spinal cord and nerve roots.
The goals of an epidural steroid injection are to:
- Control pain by reducing inflammation in and around the nerve roots
- Improve mobility and function in the lower back and legs
- Allow the patient to participate in and make progress with a comprehensive physical therapy and rehabilitation program
In the course of one’s care program, in most cases, an epidural steroid injection may be recommended after a series of nonsurgical treatments, such as medications and physical therepy have been tried, and before surgery is considered.
The role of the injection is typically to provide sufficient pain relief to allow a return to everyday activities and to make progress in physical therapy.
This article includes extensive research and information about how epidural injections may be used to treat lower back problems and sciatica.
Potential Benefits of Epidural Injections
Epidural injection can be beneficial during an acute episode of back and/or leg pain.
When administered in the lumbar epidural space, steroid injections may have the following benefits:
- Reduce nerve pain and inflammation. Steroids decrease the production of inflammatory chemicals and reduce the sensitivity of nerve fibers to pain, generating fewer pain signals.
- Limit oral medication. Pain relief from these injections may help limit or eliminate the need for oral medications, some of which may have side effects when taken long-term.
- Continue or re-engage in physical therapy. This injection may provide sufficient pain relief to allow a patient to progress with a rehabilitative physical therapy program.
- Postpone surgery. Pain relief experienced from lumbar epidural steroid injections may help postpone surgery, and if physical therapy is effective, it may eliminate the need for surgical intervention.