How can epidural injections treat bulging discs?

Epidural injections can help control back pain and inflammation, which is especially helpful for people suffering from a bulging disc in the neck or back. When combined with oral medications and physical therapy, the injections can provide enough relief from bulging disc symptoms for the patient to resume normal daily activities in a relatively short amount of time.

If you are suffering from the chronic pain of a bulging disc, you are probably actively searching for a treatment that will take away the pain and help you avoid spine surgery, if at all possible. You should consult your doctor about starting a regimen of epidural injections to help reduce your pain, so you can get back to the active lifestyle you enjoy.

What are epidural injections and how do they treat bulging discs?

Epidural injections are made up of two ingredients: a corticosteroid and a fast-acting numbing agent. The corticosteroid (often hydrocortisone or prednisone) helps suppress inflammation around nerve tissue, while the numbing agent (typically lidocaine) helps block nerve pain.

These medications are injected directly into the epidural space of the spine. The procedure itself takes only a few minutes and is followed by a brief observation period. Once the epidural injection is complete, the pain relief can begin to work.

Epidural steroid injections work in two different phases. The numbing medication provides fast-acting pain relief but wears off after four to eight hours. The steroid can provide longer lasting relief but can take two to three days before any noticeable pain relief is experienced.

Although the injections are not effective for every patient, those who do experience benefits typically report that the improvements last from a few days to a few months. For longer-term bulging disc treatment, epidural injections may be repeated three separate times, at three to four week intervals.

How do epidural injections compare to other bulging disc treatments?

Epidural steroid injections are considered a conservative form of bulging disc treatment and are often used in conjunction with over-the-counter medications, hot and cold therapy or other similar treatments. The injections are much less drastic than surgery. Because the injections are performed on an outpatient basis, there is a very short recovery period. Patients will need a friend or family member to drive them home, but they are typically free to leave the treatment center the same day.

Pain relief after bulging disc treatments

While epidural injections are not intended to cure bulging discs, they can help minimize the associated symptoms. A mild bulging disc will often heal naturally over time; epidural injections simply make the pain manageable while the disc is healing. However, some more severe cases of a bulging disc may not resolve naturally. For these more severe conditions, patients may need to explore a surgical treatment option to effectively treat the condition.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer an outpatient discectomy surgery to help treat bulging or herniated discs. Through a less than 1-inch incision, the surgeon will remove a small portion of the bulging disc that has extended into the spinal canal and trapped a nerve root. Removing this small portion will release the nerve root without disrupting the integrity of the spine or the muscles surrounding the spine.

The minimally invasive approach to this surgery offers our patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery and our patients have reported a patient satisfaction score of 96.^ If you are searching for bulging disc pain relief, contact our dedicated team for more information about the treatment options available to you.

We offer a no-cost MRI review* to learn if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.

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