Spinal stenosis treatments — epidural steroid injections

By Michael Perry, M.D.

A spinal stenosis epidural injection can be used to relieve neck or back pain caused by spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a term describing narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve root exits which can put pressure on spinal nerves and result in severe pain. This narrowing is typically caused by an obstruction in the spinal column, such as enlarged ligaments, a bulging disc or a bone spur. A steroidal anti-inflammatory injection can soothe the compressed nerve roots that are the source of the pain, but the effect is temporary and one injection usually is not enough.

When to consider an epidural steroid injection

The decision to use spinal stenosis epidural injections often comes after a series of more conservative spinal stenosis treatments have failed. It’s not uncommon for a doctor to prescribe exercise or physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medicine or other nonsurgical treatments before suggesting an epidural. These injections are usually prescribed for moderate to severe spinal stenosis — mild cases of the disease may not require epidural injections.

If you decide to receive an epidural injection for your back or neck pain, here’s what to expect:

  • The pain’s origin will be located with an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
  • A health professional will prescribe a combination of steroidal anti-inflammatory and local anesthesia.
  • The medication will be injected into the epidural space, which is the area around the spinal cord and nerve roots. An imaging machine called a fluoroscope can be used to determine the injection site.
  • The local anesthesia should provide almost immediate relief. The anti-inflammatory steroid takes effect over time.
  • You and your physician will monitor the effect of the epidural and decide whether more injections are necessary to relieve your spinal stenosis.

While the short-term relief of neck or back pain through the use of steroid injections can be extremely beneficial for the treatment of spinal stenosis symptoms, the effect tends to wear off over time. Many patients find that the temporary period of pain relief allows them to live more comfortably as they receive physical therapy in hopes to achieve longer-term relief and restoration of normal functions.

If you are considering surgery after exhausting conservative treatment options but are concerned about the risk of a traditional open spine surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery is an alternative to traditional procedures because we can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision which spares important supporting muscles. The result is a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication for our patients.

Contact us for a no-cost MRI review* to learn whether you’re a candidate for our procedures that can help you find relief from neck and back pain.

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