Common Myths and Facts About Epidural Steroid Injection for Chronic Back Pain

Statistics tell us that chronic back pain is a common problem that affects at least 8% of adults. But numbers can’t begin to tell the impact of chronic back pain on your life.

Back pain often forces patients to take time off from work and stops them from enjoying their favorite activities, whether they like taking daily strolls or engaging in competitive sports.

At the Headache & Pain Center, we’re dedicated to helping each patient get relief from chronic back pain. We specialize in many interventional therapies that are effective because they target the source of your pain.

One of our treatment options, epidural steroid injections, can provide long-lasting pain relief. But our patients often express concerns about this treatment — concerns that frequently aren’t based on the facts.

This rundown of the myths and facts about epidural steroid injections for chronic back pain covers many of our patients’ worries. But don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions or need help with ongoing back pain.

Myth: Epidural steroid injections relieve all types of back pain

Fact: Steroids are potent anti-inflammatory agents. When steroids are injected into the epidural space — a fat-filled area that surrounds and protects your spinal cord — they bathe the nerves in medication and relieve your pain by reducing inflammation.

In other words, epidural steroid injections work when your back pain is caused by nerve inflammation. In most cases, nerve inflammation occurs when the spinal nerves are pinched, a condition called radiculopathy.

Conditions that typically respond well to this treatment include herniated discs, sciatica, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis. 

Myth: Epidural steroid injections are only a last resort

Fact: We initially treat chronic back pain with conservative therapies such as:

It generally takes a few weeks to determine if this line of treatment is helping to improve your back pain.

If your back pain persists or even worsens, you shouldn’t keep struggling with back pain. Instead, it’s time to take the next step and consider epidural steroid injections. These injections are an integral part of your ongoing pain management, not a last resort.

Another problem our patients often face is that they’re in too much pain to participate in physical therapy. That’s when you shouldn’t wait to talk with us about an epidural steroid injection. Getting a pain-relieving injection allows you to return to your exercise regimen.

The bottom line is that surgery is the last resort. And epidural steroid injections often help patients avoid that step.

Myth: Epidural steroid injections last a short time

Each person’s body metabolizes drugs differently, so we can’t predict exactly how long your injection will last. But we know that our patients get long-lasting pain relief following their epidural steroid injection.

Though you may feel better for weeks to years, many patients with chronic back pain experience 3-6 months of pain relief after an epidural steroid injection.

If your first treatment only delivers mild pain relief, you can have additional injections spaced 1-4 weeks apart to achieve optimal pain relief.

Myth: Epidural steroid injections aren’t safe

Fact: There are very few risks associated with epidural steroid injections, as long as you get your treatment from physicians who have specialized training in the technique and extensive experience (like our team here at Headache & Pain Center).

You may have mild pain at the injection site, flushing, insomnia, a headache, or increased blood sugar, but these side effects go away in 1-3 days. 

Myth: Epidural steroid injections are painful

Fact: We apply a local anesthetic at the injection site and the injection contains a fast-acting local anesthetic in addition to the steroid medication. You may feel some pressure during the procedure, but you should not feel pain. 

In fact, the anesthetic in your injection provides quick but short-lasting relief from your chronic back pain.

If you need to find relief from chronic back pain, we can help. Don’t wait to call us or book an appointment online. We have offices in New Iberia and Gray, Louisiana.

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