Using an Epidural to Manage Your Chronic Sciatica Pain

Using an Epidural to Manage Your Chronic Sciatica Pain

Epidural injections deliver medications that provide pain relief when oral medications and physical therapy fail to do so. In many cases, epidurals can delay the need for surgery. 

Epidurals contain an anesthetic and steroids, and are injected into the epidural space. There are three layers of space in your spine. The epidural space is between the nerves that run through the spine and the bone tissue that holds the spinal cord.

Even though the injection must penetrate several layers of tissue to reach the epidural space, the treatment is considered minimally invasive because there's no need for recovery or any special preparations beforehand.

Here, Dr. Bonaventure Ngu — our expert at Premier Spine Institute — explains how medical experts use epidurals for sciatica pain relief. 

How epidural steroid injections provide relief from sciatica

There are two common causes of sciatica: an injury to the sciatic nerve or irritation of the sciatic nerve. Epidural injections don’t help with the healing of the nerve, nor do they decompress the sciatic nerve. Instead, they reduce inflammation in the area and desensitize the nerve to pain. 

However, with less pain, you are able to be more mobile and active, which can help improve blood flow and decompress the nerve. 

Different types of epidural injections

The three most commonly used epidurals are: interlaminar epidural injections, caudal epidural injections, and transforaminal epidural injections. 

Interlaminar epidural injections are for managing pain due to multiple problems along the spine. They allow for medication to spread over a larger area.

Caudal epidurals can be used for more widely spread pain throughout the back. These are the easiest and safest epidurals to administer. 

Transforaminal epidurals are more targeted. They deliver medication directly to irritated nerves and have a longer-lasting result.

Depending on the type of epidural injected, the pain relief can last anywhere from one to three months. 

Common side effects associated with an epidural

Side effects as a consequence of an epidural are often mild and don't last more than a few days. They include the following:

* Elevated blood sugar levels

* Low blood pressure

* Itchiness of the skin

* Flushing of the face

Serious side effects are rare and often caused by a severe allergic reaction to one of the ingredients injected.

Learn more about epidural injections for chronic sciatica pain

There are no special preparations for an epidural. Beforehand, you change into a robe and lay on your back while our specialist guides the needle using a live X-ray machine. The treatment can last anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes. There's no pain involved, as you receive a local anesthetic.

If you'd like to eliminate the need for oral medication or if you’re looking for long-term pain relief, contact us to schedule an appointment today at one of our offices in The Woodlands, Humble, or Baytown, Texas. We can help determine if you’re a good candidate for epidural injections.

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