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Epidural Steroid Injections

SamWell Institute for Pain Management

Pain Management Specialist located in Colonia, NJ, Livingston, NJ & Englewood, NJ

While you’ve likely heard of an epidural for childbirth, this treatment is also used to relieve back and leg pain due to sciatica and is performed safely under live X-ray image guidance. As a pain management specialist, Jay Shah, MD understands how epidural steroid injections can be used to relieve your chronic pain. To determine whether you’re a good candidate for an epidural steroid injection, call the SamWell Institute for Pain Management office in Colonia, Englewood or Livingston, New Jersey, or request an appointment online today.

Epidural Steroid Injections Q & A

What is an epidural steroid injection?

An “epidural,” or an epidural steroid injection, is the term used to describe a procedure to numb your back or block the nerves that cause pain, and it is often used during childbirth. However, the procedure has widespread utilization within the field of pain management as a tool for lower back and leg back from disc herniations causing sciatica.

While “epidural” is the commonly used term for the treatment, your epidural is actually the space surrounding and protecting your spinal cord. The epidural area is made up of fat and blood vessels that encompass your delicate dural sac, which contains your spinal cord and nerves.

There are 3 common approaches to an epidural steroid injection performed under live X-ray guidance:

  • Transforaminal Approach
  • Interlaminar Approach
  • Caudal Approach

Depending on the exact cause for your pain, your specific anatomy, and the results of your diagnostic testing, Dr. Shah will determine which approach is likely to provide you with the best long term outcome. 

How does an epidural injection relieve back pain?

An epidural steroid injection delivers a one-two punch: the injection contains ingredients that numb your pain and reduce inflammation, targeting the exact site of where your issue lies.

After an extensive examination to locate the source of the nerve irritation, Dr. Shah targets that specific area with an injection that contains a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, as well as anti-inflammatory steroid medication. Dr. Shah may also add saline to the mix to flush out and wash away anything that may be causing the inflammation. Dr. Shah will also utilize contrast,or contrast substitute, to accurately identify the path of the medication prior to injection - this ensures safety as well as precision and accuracy of the procedure. 

What does an epidural injection treat?

More often than not, back pain that radiates down the legs  involves nerves that have been compressed or irritated, which can happen for several reasons, such as:

  • Degenerative disc disease, or arthritis
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Pinched nerves

Anytime a nerve is affected, an epidural injection works to calm the nerve and treat the underlying inflammation.

Is an epidural injection safe?

When performed by a board-certified pain management specialist, such as Dr. Shah, epidural injections are considered safe. You may experience some pressure as the injection goes to work, but this often resolves itself quickly, with pain relief that starts within a few days post-procedure.

The procedure is performed under direct live fluoroscopic or X-ray image guidance for accuracy, precision, and safety. 

It’s also important to note that an epidural injection can provide temporary relief and may not be a long-term solution for select patients. If the injections facilitate significant improvement, you may return periodically for subsequent injections to maintain your results and provide long-term and sustained relief of your pain.

If you’re experiencing back pain, call SamWell Institute for Pain Management or book an appointment online to determine if an epidural injection can help.