According to the National Association of Spine Specialists, epidural steroid injections (or ESIs) are the standard treatments for leg and lower back pain that doctors have been using for years. They see ESIs as crucial in the non-surgical management of lower back pain or sciatica. Here, doctors introduce a steroid medication and a local anesthetic into the epidural space. If you want to learn more about the benefits of ESIs for back and leg pain, here’s what you should know.
Doctors introduce ESIs into the epidural space surrounding the nerve roots and spinal cord. The treatment aims to reduce inflammation in the nerve roots and around them. This controls the pain in that area and allows you to make significant progress in rehabilitation and physical therapy. ESI treatment also aims to improve your mobility by bringing back the function of your lower legs and back.
ESIs benefit patients during an acute leg or back pain episode. The relief may last from one week to a year. If the first injection is effective, the patient can receive three injections a year. Below are the benefits of ESIs:
Postpone surgical procedures: The relief from ESIs can help postpone spinal surgeries. If the combination of physical therapy and ESIs is effective, it may remove the option of surgery from your treatment plan.
Decrease oral medication: You may not need oral medications anymore if you take ESIs. Oral pain relievers tend to have side effects. Taking ESIs is better for your health.
Lessen inflammation and pain: ESIs and other steroidal medications decrease the body’s production of inflammatory agents. They reduce the pain sensitivity of your nerve fibers. It generates fewer signals for pain.
Allow continuation of physical therapy: These injections may give you proper pain relief. You can experience progress with your physical therapy when this happens.
ESIs are for patients with pain in the leg, neck, arm, or lower back. You can also benefit from ESIs if you have the following conditions:
Spinal stenosis: This is the narrowing of the nerve root and spinal canals. It causes leg and back pain whenever you walk.
Herniated disc: In this spinal condition, the gel-like substance in your spinal disc ruptures or bulges through the annulus. When the substance comes out and touches the spinal nerve, it results in swelling, irritation, and pain.
Sciatica: This is a type of pain that travels along your sciatic nerve. It passes through your buttocks, down to your legs. The compression of the first sacral spinal nerve or the fifth lumbar spinal nerve causes this.
Spondylolisthesis: The fracture or weakness between the lower and upper facets of your vertebra causes this condition. If your vertebra slips forward, it tends to compress the nerve roots. This causes severe pain.
Degenerative disc: Aging or a breakdown of your intervertebral disc causes a collapse in your disc space. It also tears the annulus and leads to the development of bone spurs.
ESIs can help improve your quality of life. At Alicja Steiner, MD, we assist our patients during their treatments and guide them after. Please visit our clinic in San Diego, California, for an in-person consultation. You can also call us at 619-304-1539 if you want to schedule an appointment or make inquiries about our ESI packages.