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Are Epidural Steroid Injections Safe and When Are They the Best Option for Chronic Pain?

Aug 01, 2023

Chronic pain makes life hard, affecting your physical and emotional well-being. Not finding an effective treatment to manage your pain may leave you feeling frustrated, anxious, and depressed.

At Florida Pain Management Institute in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, Florida, our board-certified pain management experts understand the toll of chronic pain and that no single treatment works for all. We offer comprehensive solutions, so we can customize plans and get you the relief you need.

Here, we want to talk about epidural steroid injections, how they work, when we recommend the procedure, and the potential risks. 

About epidural steroid injections

Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are an interventional pain management treatment that involves injecting corticosteroids (an anti-inflammatory) into the epidural space in your spine. The epidural space is the fatty tissue outside your spinal cord. The medication bathes the inflamed nerve roots, reducing swelling, redness, and pain. 

Results from ESIs vary, but you may start to feel relief from your pain within a few days following your injection. An ESI isn’t a permanent solution for pain, but can provide relief from your discomfort for up to a year.

Not everyone gets pain relief from an epidural injection. 

Who benefits from the injection

Epidural steroid injections alleviate neck and low back pain generated by irritation or pinching of spinal nerves. Some conditions that cause spinal nerve problems and may benefit from epidural steroid injections include:

Because these injections are invasive, we only recommend them if your pain is severe and fails to respond to conservative treatments like oral medications and physical therapy.

Safety and risks

Epidural steroid injections are generally safe. However, like any procedure, there are some risks, such as bleeding, infections, or damage to a nerve. 

We ask that you stop taking medications or supplements that thin the blood up to a week before your ESI to reduce risk of bleeding. This includes some pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen. 

We also use X-ray guided-imaging when performing ESIs to ensure accurate placement of the medication and limit unwanted side effects. When done correctly, the benefits of the injection far outweigh the risks. 

Though there are risks that come with the procedure itself, getting too many epidural injections, or doses that are too high, is one of the main safety concerns. High doses of corticosteroids may weaken the bones and surrounding tissue, creating new problems. 

Our pain management experts customize treatment plans, but we may limit the number of ESIs you get in a year to protect your overall health.

Epidural injections are safe and may be your best option for getting relief from chronic pain when conservative measures fail. 

Let us help you get free from your chronic pain. Call our office today, or request an appointment online to schedule a consultation with our pain experts who can talk to you about your options.