Have you tried everything for your back pain and nothing works? Have you been in pain for months at a time with no relief? You may want to talk to your doctor about having an epidural shot. It's a fairly simple procedure and you're given medicine to numb the area beforehand. What follows is what to expect from the procedure.
The pain might not stay gone forever, but it may allow you to go to therapy for the issue without being in tremendous pain. Does this sound like the best idea for you? In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about getting an epidural for back pain and how it may benefit you.
What Are Epidural Shots?
An Epidural shot is an injection of a steroid medicine into your spinal canal. This medicine will reduce any swelling or inflammation causing back pain by easing the pressure on your nerve roots.
This procedure is usually a one-time injection but can also be done in three different sessions as three separate shots. Please keep in mind that it's not a miracle cure. It can ease your pain for a short period of time but it sadly won't fix your back completely.
Also, it's not a good idea to jump back into regular activities after the epidural is done. It can help with your performance for a little while but the effects will not be permanent.
Why Would a Doctor Recommend an Epidural for Back Pain?
A doctor will usually recommend an epidural for back pain if you've been suffering for six months or more and the pain has extended down your leg.
Your doctor may also recommend it if you've tried several other methods without seeing any relief.
The epidural can be used to put off surgery so if for whatever reason you don't want the surgery or can't have it, your doctor may suggest this method to delay the need for going under the knife.
Do Epidurals Actually Work for Back Pain?
If the pain isn't extending down through your leg, the epidural probably won't be very effective at all. If the pain is going down that far though, you may be able to have relief for up to three months or so.
Again, the effects aren't really permanent so don't go take a construction job in hopes that your back will still feel great a year after the procedure. What the epidural can do is keep the pain away long enough for your back to heal up all on its own or for other treatment methods to start to work.
What Can You Expect During the Procedure?
You will be awake for the entire procedure but the place where the shot is being injected will be numbed so you won't feel anything. It's a really simple procedure and you'll be able to go home right after it's done.
After the procedure is over, you'll be given pain meds to help keep the pain away. It is recommended that you continue with other therapeutic options after you've been given the shot. Patients who have done this have been able to reduce the need for surgery.
When Should You Not Consider Epidurals?
There are some signs that you shouldn't get the epidural. For example, if the pain doesn't shoot down your leg you'd be wasting your time. The procedure doesn't work well against ordinary back pain.
If you're doing other methods for relief such as medicine and therapy its best you put off the procedure until you know for a fact these methods aren't working. Epidural shots aren't exactly cheap so if you can cure your issue with medicine or therapy, that would be the better idea.
Are There Any Risks?
There are a few risks such as a headache that lasts for several days. You may also experience a fever, infection or even more pain. Sometimes more extreme risks occur but very unusual to experience long-lasting side effects.
The more extreme risks include a stroke, loss of vision, or even paralysis. Some patients report worsening back pain, and some develop other spinal conditions. Again, these effects can happen, but it's rare that they do.
What Can You Try Instead of Epidural Shots?
If the epidural just doesn't sound like your cup of tea there are other methods you can try before you go through with the injection.
If you either have a stationary bike or access to one at a local gym, you may feel some relief from using it. Aerobic exercises such as these can do wonders for back pain. The issue is that sometimes your back pain is so severe that you don't even want to look at a stationary bike or say the word exercise.
Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen could help reduce the swelling of the infected area. It's actually the most effective over the counter med for this issue.
If it's not strong enough you should see a doctor. They may do an analysis and decide that you do indeed need stronger pain medications.
Back pain can be a side effect of being overweight. If this is the case you'll probably see relief if you lose the weight, take measures to keep it off, and maintain a healthy mass.
A physical therapist can teach you different stretching exercises that you can do with them or in the comfort of your home. These exercises could bring you enough relief where the shots won't be necessary.
Is an Epidural for Back Pain Your Best Option?
If you have back pain that has persisted for more than six months and has extended down your leg, an epidural for back pain could be your best option. Ask your doctor about the shot if you've tried other methods that haven't worked and you're ready to feel a little relief.