Epidural Injections provide relief to acute and chronic pain or inflammation through an injectable form of medication in the spine, neck, or other sites on the body. Usually administered by a nurse, anesthesiologist, or doctor, Epidurals Injections are common treatments without the need for surgery or extended recovery time. Kentucky Pain Associates offers multiple types of epidural injections targeted to manage pain located in various areas of the body. We want to educate our patients on Epidural Injections if you are considering using this form of treatment. This blog is dedicated to the 4 things KPA wants you to know about Epidural Injections.
1. What is an Epidural Injection?
An epidural injection is an injection of medication into the area around the spinal cord, known as the epidural space, to relieve temporary or extended relief from pain or inflammation. The epidural space is located on the outermost part of the spinal canal. Medications like steroids, anesthetics, and anti-inflammatory medicine is usually delivered in an epidural injection. An injection may reduce nerve damage as well.
To help a doctor pinpoint precisely where an epidural should be injected, computed technology (CT) or (CAT) scans are used. Using this technology will increase the accuracy of the point of pain and hopefully lead to faster recovery for the patient.
2. What are they used for?
An epidural injection is one of many methods doctors use to relieve pain, along with physical therapy, oral medications, and surgery if a patient is not responding to conservative treatments.
An epidural injection may be performed to alleviate pain caused by:
A collapsed, herniated disk that hinders nerves causing pain
Post-operative surgery pain (chronic back or leg pain after spinal surgery)
Other injuries to spinal nerves, vertebrae, and surrounding tissues
3. How to Prepare, What to Expect, and Post-Op
You may be asked by your doctor not to eat or drink for several hours before your procedure to prevent you from having an upset stomach following the injection. You may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure. Your nurse will give you a gown to change into and instruct you to use the restroom before the procedure. You will then be positioned on your stomach or side to give the doctor easy access to the injection site.
Different types of medications injected into the epidural canal create various effects on patients. An epidural injection delivered directly into the epidural space will allow the medication to coating inflamed nerve roots causing the patient pain. A lumbar injection can alleviate pain located in the lower back and the nerves attached to the lower extremities. Similarly, if an epidural injection is performed in the neck, it should spread throughout the cervical epidural canal and relieve nerve roots in the neck causing upper extremity pain. The doctor who administers the injection should follow up with you to determine how you are recovering and if any further action is required.
4. Benefits vs. Risks
- Temporary or extended pain relief
- Increased ability to perform daily activities without pain restrictions
- Help to confirm the direct site of the pain
- May reduce the need for extensive procedures/surgeries
- Reduction of inflammation in the area causing pain
- Temporary increase in pain
- Injury to the nerves at the injection site
- Headaches are a potential, rare side effect
- Minimal low-level radiation when using a CT scan
- Side effects to medications like hot flashes or a rash
- Infection at the injection site
Women should inform their doctor and x-ray specialist if there is any possibility they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not safe during pregnancy due to radiation exposure to the fetus
If you are interested in learning more about the Epidural Injections that KPA offers or want to speak with our team about the best treatment option for you, contact us here.