Sciatica patients may experience two different types of spinal injections. One is for diagnosis and the other is for pain management. The type used for diagnosis is also known as a spinal nerve block. Doctors employ it by singling out the nerves that appear to be the source of pain, and then they use a chemical injection to desensitize them. If the pain goes away, then the doctors know they’ve correctly identified the problem. The spinal injection more commonly associated with sciatica is an epidural steroid injection. In this context, a doctor injects a steroid called cortisone into the area around the affected portion of your spine and it reduces the inflammation and irritation caused by the pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Epidural steroid injections are tremendously effective in relieving sciatica pain, but they come with some side effects and risks, including:
- Spinal puncture
- Nerve damage
- High blood sugar
- Weight gain
Most of these side effects are rare, but they can have a serious impact on your health. Additionally, while steroid injections work well for relieving sciatica, the relief is temporary, lasting anywhere from a few days to several months. And, unlike other treatments for sciatica, spinal injections treat only the pain, not the cause, which is generally a herniated disc. Sometimes herniated discs resolve on their own, but occasionally they require surgery in order for the patient to experience relief. If your physician is recommending spinal injections for your sciatica, you may ask him or her about surgery instead. You might contact Laser Spine Institute about endoscopic surgery for treatment of your sciatica. LSI’s gentle, minimally invasive procedures are safer and more effective than traditional surgery, so our center is the preferred choice for many patients.