Epidural Steroid Injections in Colorado
Interventional Pain Management Treatments
In recent statistics gathered by United Healthcare, a staggering 90% of Americans will suffer with lower back pain at some point in their lifetime. In what has become the most common procedure for lumbar pain, the epidural steroid injection is a highly effective, minimally invasive treatment that can be administered in less than 30 minutes.
An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is used to relieve neck, arm, back, and leg pain from inflamed and compressed spinal nerves. If you visit one of our Colorado Clinic locations in Greely, Loveland, Colorado Springs, or the surrounding areas, our knowledgeable pain management doctors will guide you through the ESI treatment and keep up with your progress to ensure you are experiencing pain relief.
What is the purpose of an epidural steroid injection?
Corticosteroid injections reduce inflammation and are effective when delivered directly onto the painful nerves. The ESI does not make a herniated disc smaller, but it will flush away proteins that cause irritation and swelling. The pain relief from and ESI can last from 1-24 months, which varies from person-to-person.
What conditions are treated using ESI?
This type of injection is an effective treatment for conditions involving a pinched or compressed spinal nerve. Some of the conditions we commonly treat with ESI include:
- Spinal stenosis – This is narrowing of the spinal canal that causes compression of nerve roots that branch off the spinal cord.
- Degenerative disc disease – With age and wear-and-tear, the intervertebral discs loose water content and shape. This causes the vertebrae to shift and move, compression spinal nerve.
- Spondylolysis – With a fracture or weakness between the upper and lower facets of a vertebra, the vertebra slips forward, which is known as spondylolisthesis. This causes nerve root compression, pain, and radicular symptoms.
- Herniated disc – The gel-like material inside a disc can rupture through a weakened area in the tough outer layers/wall (called the annulus). The disc material causes irritation, swelling, and pain when it comes in contact with a spinal nerve.
We also use ESI for cases of whiplash, vertebral fractures, failed back surgery syndrome, and spinal deformities. Essentially any condition that is causing pain due to a pinched nerve or chemically irritated nerve root can benefit from an ESI.
Who is a candidate for an ESI?
Epidural steroid injections are helpful for patients with inflammatory, painful conditions. You should not have an ESI if you have bleeding problems, an active infection, are pregnant, or complications from diabetes. ESIs are often used to determine if surgery will be beneficial for the pain related to a disc herniation.
How do I prepare for the epidural steroid injection?
The doctor will first meet with you to assess your condition, take a medical history, and perform a physical examination. The doctor may take additional imaging studies of your spine to evaluate the problem. If you are taking a blood thinning medication (Plavix, Fragmin, Lovenox, Coumadin, or aspirin), you should notify the doctor as these can interfere with the operation. You will be sedated during the operation, meaning you will need someone who can safely drive you home afterwards.
What happens during the ESI procedure?
When you arrive for your procedure, you will sign forms, change into a gown, and the nurse will place an IV catheter in your hand. The nurse positions you face-down on the procedure bed, and cleans your back region using an antiseptic solution. The doctor then numbs the skin using a tiny needle and anesthetic. A low dose sedative is given, such as Versed or Valium. The procedure needle and catheter is inserted into the epidural space using a special type of x-ray called fluoroscopy. This allows the doctor to watch the needle on a monitor to ensure correct placement and delivery of the medication onto the inflamed nerve root.
Our clinic performs epidural steroid injection as an outpatient treatment using only local anesthesia at the site of injection. Full sedation is available.
What are the benefits of ESIs?
ESIs are used to relieve pain in patients who have not responded to other treatments. The procedure is minimally invasive, done as an outpatient procedure, and involves little recovery time. In addition, ESI can offer long-term pain relief.
What happens after the ESI?
You will remain in a recovery area for 60 minutes. Some patients report immediate relief of pain, especially when an anesthetic is used in the injection. Your back will feel a bit sore, but this resolves in a few days. We recommend you rest for 1-2 days, and gradually resume activities.
Does the epidural steroid injection work?
In a study involving patients with low back pain and a disc prolapse confirmed by MRI, doctors administered an injection of methylprednisolone 80 mg with 2 ml of bupivacaine. The success rate was 85%, with no complications.