In 2021, just over 20 percent of Americans reported experiencing chronic pain, and 7 percent of those people had what’s called high-impact chronic pain.
This can be debilitating, limiting access to work and leisure activities. In some cases, people are left literally housebound.
One medical intervention that can relieve chronic pain in some cases is an epidural steroid injection—also sometimes known as an epidural corticosteroid injection. Read on to learn what you need to know about this often life-changing pain management option.
1. What Does Getting an Epidural Steroid Injection Involve?
The process for getting an epidural steroid injection is quite simple. It’s an outpatient procedure unless you’re already in the hospital.
First, your doctor will use an imagining test—an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI—to locate the damaged nerves. Then, they will inject your skin with a numbing agent; this reduces the pain from the needle used in the injection process. Finally, they will inject anti-inflammatory medication.
The medication should take just a few minutes to start working. Your clinician may ask you to stay at the clinic for a set period to monitor for any reaction.
2. What Conditions Can Epidural Steroid Injections Help?
An epidural steroid injection is often a first-step solution to pain management because it’s minimally invasive.
Doctors typically prescribe this type of injection to manage pain from:
- Disc herniations
- Postherpetic neuralgia
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar and cervical radiculopathy
Not a fan of injections? Take a look here to learn more about lower back pain and how to manage that pain.
3. What Should You Expect After the Procedure?
You should be able to walk out of your appointment with no trouble.
However, you can expect to feel temporary heaviness or numbness in your legs. This is due to the local anesthetic (if used) and the steroid injection itself. You may also experience some mild dizziness or nausea.
Don’t be troubled if you still experience some level of pain for a few days after receiving the injection. It can take a while for the steroids to take effect. Typically, pain relief lasts days to months; results differ from patient to patient.
Be sure to go to any follow-up appointments your doctor schedules. Missing them might mean you don’t learn how to manage your pain effectively.
4. Are There Any Risks or Side Effects?
Steroid injections pose little risk to most people. However, there are still some side effects you need to be aware of. These include:
- Bleeding disorders
- Allergic reactions
- Temporary worsening pain
- Increased blood sugar
- Nerve damage
If you experience any of the above side effects, inform your medical provider immediately.
Is an Epidural Steroid Injection Right for You?
Don’t suffer in silence.
If you have pain caused by any of the conditions listed in this article, talk to your healthcare provider about including a regular epidural steroid injection in your pain management plan. This minimally invasive procedure can help relieve your pain and improve your quality of life.
For more helpful healthcare advice, read the other articles on our blog.