Are Epidural Steroid Injections Safe?

Apr 5, 2019

Close-up of a pain-relieving injection being administered.

When back pain strikes, it can limit your life in innumerable ways, leaving you to cast about for a solution that will bring you much-needed relief. One of those solutions is an epidural steroid injection, which relieves the inflammation and the pain almost immediately. But are they safe? The answer to this can be found in the millions of Americans who’ve successfully regained pain-free movement through injection therapies.

At Pacific Pain and Regenerative Medicine, board-certified and fellowship-trained interventional pain management specialist Dr. Hasan Badday and our team have one goal when it comes to your wellness — tackle the pain that’s limiting your life. As many of our clients in the Irvine, California, and Los Angeles areas can attest, an epidural steroid injection is one of the most effective avenues to reaching that goal.

Here’s a look at what an epidural steroid injection is, how we administer it, and how it helps relieve your hard-to-treat back pain.

The problem

Approximately 80% of adults in the United States experience low back pain at some point in their lives, 20% of whom go on to struggle with chronic pain. And this is just the low back. Many more also deal with cervical (neck) and thoracic (mid-back) pain.

The main drivers of back pain anywhere along your spine include:

  • Herniated or ruptured disc
  • Sciatica
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Compression fractures
  • Annular tear

Given that your back provides the foundational support for your entire body, it’s little wonder that this hard-working area is susceptible to a number of conditions that can cause back pain.

An injectable solution

If your back is giving you problems despite giving it the care and rest it needs, it may be time to take more aggressive measures. One of the best next steps is an epidural steroid injection, which can provide you with the relief you need to get on with your life.

An epidural steroid injection can contain several ingredients, including a:

  • Steroid
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Local anesthetic

Depending upon your pain, we come up with the right ingredients and inject the solution into the epidural space on the outside of your spinal canal, just outside your dural membrane.

The goal of the injection is to reduce the inflammation and quiet the nerve root that’s irritated and causing you pain.

For your safety

We understand that any work around your spine may give you pause, so we’d like to explain the precautions we take to ensure your safety.

After thoroughly reviewing your situation and diagnosing your problem through advanced imaging, which may include X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, we zero in on the area we believe is causing the problem.

After sterilizing the surface of your skin, we apply a topical anesthetic for your comfort. Once you’re ready, we again turn to advanced imaging to help us guide the needle into the correct spot. With fluoroscopy, we use real-time X-ray to give us a visual of your epidural space, allowing us a high level of precision and accuracy.

We usually perform the procedure in under an hour, at which point you’re free to return home, though we recommend that you have someone drive you.

As with all medical procedures, there are risks, but the numbers are incredibly low when it comes to epidural steroid injections. For example, infection occurs in 0.1-0.01% of patients and dural puncture in 0.5%. These extremely low numbers are a testament to the overall safety of this valuable back pain treatment.

If you’d like to explore whether an epidural steroid injection is right for you, please give us a call or use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.

Pain Management Specialist in Irvine & Los Angeles, CA
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