When back pain hits and you can’t work, run errands, or play with your kids, you may feel isolated, but know you are not alone. In fact, you’re among the 31 million Americans searching for pain relief. Research shows back pain is the top cause of disability around the world.
We have orthopedic surgeons, pain management doctors, chiropractors, sports medicine professionals, physical therapists, and occupational therapists all working together to develop a treatment plan that addresses your unique symptoms.
This multidisciplinary approach allows us to tackle your back pain from multiple angles and offer treatment options that range from conservative and traditional to alternative and innovative — we leave no stone unturned when it comes to stopping your pain.
If you’ve tried therapy, with little to no improvement, it may be time for an epidural injection, which we offer here!
Common causes of back pain
Back pain is an umbrella term covering a long list of conditions which can involve your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, spinal discs, and nerves. Some of the most common types of back pain are:
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Pinched nerve
- Spinal stenosis
- Soft tissue damage
- Degenerative disc disease
These conditions can be caused by accidents and injuries, disease or illness, or simply the aging process. Typically, a back injury heals in a month or two with proper care, but when it remains painful or debilitating for more than three months it’s time to take the next step before your pain becomes chronic.
How is back pain is treated?
While certain conditions may require surgery, most people can recover from their back pain with simpler measures, like over-the-counter pain medication, physical therapy, hot and cold therapies, electrical stimulation, chiropractic adjustments, and ultrasound therapy.
The important thing is to address the root cause of your pain, rather than focusing solely on the pain itself. But sometimes, the pain is so severe, it prevents you from participating in the healing therapies that can stop your pain for good. That’s where epidural injections come in.
What are epidural injections?
Epidural injections have been around since the 1950s and are still one of the most effective ways to combat back pain. The procedure involves injecting an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid directly into the epidural space, which surrounds the nerves running through your spinal cord.
The shot contains cortisol, a steroid which reduces inflammation, the primary reason for your pain. When you take an oral medication to reduce swelling, it goes through your digestive system, which takes time and the drug doesn’t go straight to your back, but is dispersed throughout your body.
An epidural injection, on the other hand, delivers precisely targeted results. It also contains a local anesthetic like lidocaine to offer immediate relief by flushing out the immunologic agents that create the inflammation.
What happens during an epidural injection?
An epidural injection may sound intimidating, but the procedure is not painful. Once you’re lying comfortably on your stomach, we sterilize the point of injection and numb the area with a local anesthetic.
We use fluoroscopy, which is a live X-ray, to guide the needle to the exact spot where your pain originates. And while you won’t feel any pain, you may feel some pressure as the solution slowly enters your epidural space.
After the injection, we monitor you for 15-20 minutes just to make sure you’re feeling okay, and then you’re free to go home. It’s normal to feel some discomfort at the injection site for a few hours, but this type of discomfort can be relieved with an ice pack.
What are the benefits of epidural injections
The goal of epidural injections is to reduce or eliminate your pain long enough for you to participate fully in the treatments that can resolve your underlying condition. Depending on what you’re dealing with, your epidural injection may give you pain relief for a week or up to a year.
Many people find that when the effects of the steroid wear off, the pain is gone because they’ve healed and no longer need the help of the injection. Individuals vary, though, and may need more than one injection, but you can’t have more than three within the span of a year.
If you’re suffering from back pain caused by herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or sciatica, the relief you get during this time may be all it takes to allow healing to take place.
To find out if you’re a good candidate for the pain-relieving effects of an epidural injection, contact us at any of our four New Jersey locations to Get Better Faster.