In this post I will described a patient encounter in which one of my patients had great success with an epidural injection for back pain. She presented to my office this week one year after injection and reported that she is pain free.
This patient is a 34-year-old female that had been suffering from intermittent back pain for more than a year which increased in severity over the past month. She complained of severe lower back pain that limited her ability to exercise and perform regular activities. She also complained of occasional shooting pain down her leg consistent with “sciatica” pain. She thinks that her back pain started due to working longer than usual hours on her computer.
Back pain due to sitting position for long periods of time is a common problem I see in my practice for the relatively young population. The cause is often due to increase in pressure occurring in the disk that causes bulges and herniations. These can be painful on their own, however if they are large enough, patients may complain of pain shooting down the leg which is often termed “sciatic pain.”
This patient had tried anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants prescribed previously. She also had failed physical therapy. I recommended epidural injection for treatment after failing to receive relief from the use of traditional treatment modalities.
Conservative treatments such as NSAIDS (Non-steroidal Anti inflammatory Drugs), physical therapy and TENS unit (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) can be useful for mild back pain, patients usually find epidural injection provide safe and immediate relief when it comes to symptoms that become constant or unbearable.
The epidural injection was done with a real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy to ensure proper needle position within the epidural space. Patients usually only feel a mild pinching pain when I apply the superficial anesthetic injection.
The epidural injection works by placing anti-inflammatory steroid medicine into the epidural space which encompasses the exiting nerve that’s responsible for the pain shooting down the legs. The steroid portion of the medication clears the inflammation quickly often relieving the symptoms permanently.
The epidural injection treatment usually takes 15 minutes as it did in this case.
As the patient walked out of the outpatient surgery room she reported immediate relief. She said that it had been more than a year since she was in no pain.
At her first follow-up visit she reported that she had some discomfort for a few days after the injection however, shortly after the pain went away and never came back. At her most recent visit, one year after her injection, she reported complete relief since that time. She said that the result of the treatment had been more positive than she thought it would be.
In conclusion, steroid epidural injection is a quick, minimally invasive procedure that helps ease the pain immediately and provide long-lasting relief of back pain. Patients typically return to their normal activities within one to two days after the treatment with their back pain alleviated.
Epidural steroid injection for back pain is a safe, comfortable, relatively painless and effective early treatment option for many patients. By doing an epidural steroid injection early in the treatment plan, patient’s can bypass NSAIDs and oral steroids which often have GI side effects. Than participation in physical therapy is not limited. Epidural steroid injection treatment for early back pain symptoms is effective and recommended in the medical literature.
If you are experiencing back pain you may be a candidate for epidural steroid injection. I encourage you to call my office for a consultation. I assure you that you are in the hands of a competent, well-trained, compassionate an experienced physician.