If you’re experiencing back pain, you’re not alone. The number one reason Americans visit their doctor is to receive treatment for back pain. For decades, spinal injections have been one of the most common short-term treatments for back pain.
Injections into your spine are an effective way to relieve pain that is “radicular,” meaning it radiates from your spine to an arm or leg, and is typically the result of a slipped or herniated disk in the spine. Even though spinal injections are the most common pain-reliever for this type of pain, your doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) will monitor their use and ensure you get the treatments safely — usually no more than two to three times a year.
Relief from the Pain
Spinal physicians agree that while the pain relief from these injections is temporary, lasting from a week up to a year, the relief from injections also enables you to progress in your exercise and stretching rehab programs.
In other words, pain and swelling may limit the range of motion for stretching exercises, or be so painful that it prohibits that exercise. With the relief from spinal injections, you can achieve a wider range of motion when stretching and exercising. And you’ll have added motivation to exercise when you’re pain-free.
Pain Relief Where It’s Needed
Epidural steroid injections not only work for lower back regions, but they also ease pain in the neck, mid-back, and sciatica, also referred to as leg pain. Sciatica pain originates from a pinched nerve in the lower back and then radiates downward into your leg or foot.
Another benefit to these injections is that they deliver medicine right to the source of your pain — as opposed to oral painkillers and steroids that are dispersed throughout the body and have a less focused impact. Oral medicines often come with harmful side effects too.
Spinal injections flush out inflammatory chemicals and proteins that are often the cause of back pain. You also have greater pain relief when a spinal injection is accompanied with a therapeutic exercise regimen. Inflammatory chemicals typically cause pain and are linked to common back issues like lumbar disc herniation and facet joint arthritis. These and other issues promote inflammation that can cause irritation and swelling in the roots of your nerves.
Steroids delivered through spinal injection provide beneficial results by reducing the natural responses of the immune system that reacts to tissue and nerve damage, and inflammation. Typically, when there is an injury, your body generates white blood cells and chemicals that protect the body from infection, bacteria and viruses. When this natural process is decreased with steroid spinal injections, you’ll feel less pain and inflammation.
Success Rates with Epidural Steroid Injection
When practitioners use small video cameras and x-rays to inject steroids in the spine, more than 50 percent of patients report significant pain relief. Pain relief rates are higher for primary leg pain, while lower back pain results are a little bit lower.
Pain relief from epidural steroid injections also can improve your mental health and quality of life. These injections also potentially delay surgery or negate the need for it altogether. Finally, steroid injections lead to a reduced need for painkillers. All in all, after a thorough examination and agreement with your SSI doctors, you may find that spinal injections are the key to long-lasting pain relief.