March 9, 2015
Will Steroid Injections Help My Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease can cause considerable pain when you move certain ways, making it difficult for you to perform everyday activities. While your doctor might prescribe non-surgical treatment methods, these might not prove effective. The next step might be steroid injections to reduce your pain and inflammation.
Lumbar epidural steroid injections (LESI) place steroids directly into the epidural area of your spine in order to reduce inflammation. They usually consist of cortisone, which has anti-inflammatory properties, combined with a local anesthetic that offers short-term pain relief for degenerative disc disease. In some cases, saline is also included to help flush out chemicals that can cause inflammation, providing additional pain relief.
How Do Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections Work?
The steroid injections reduce inflammation and help prevent additional inflammation. The injections make it less likely that your immune system will produce inflammatory chemicals that protect your body from infections, viruses and bacteria. This is a temporary effect that helps ease pain. The local anesthetic in these injections gives you immediate pain relief, but it varies how long the effect of the injection will last. The anesthetic also helps get rid of chemicals that cause inflammation.
What Are the Benefits of Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections?
Steroid injections can provide more effective pain relief when you have degenerative disc disease that does not respond well to other non-surgical forms of treatment. Your doctor might also recommend these injections if you develop other health problems that can make back pain worse, such as osteoarthritis or a herniated disc.
Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections are typically able to provide more pain relief compared to oral anti-inflammatory steroids or other pain medications. This is mainly due to the fact that they are injected close to the source of your pain. Medications taken orally do not have as direct an impact on the affected area by the time they reach it, leading to less effective pain relief. They might also have unpleasant side effects. Injections do not have these side effects and can safely be administered up to three times per year. They also provide better control of inflammation in your lower back pain by ridding this area of chemicals that can lead to flare-ups.
How Are Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections Given?
A qualified interventional pain management physician will have you lie down on your stomach with a pillow under you to lift your back slightly. Your physician will clean the injection site, and then numb it with a local anesthetic or give you medications prior to your procedure. The method of pre-procedure prep will be discussed with you by your surgeon or pain management physician.
Once the injection site is ready, your doctor will insert a needle into the epidural space in your spine, using a live x-ray for guidance. The steroid is then injected, which might cause you to feel slight pressure. After the injection is given, you will be monitored for about 15 minutes before being sent home.
You might experience soreness at the injection site for a couple of hours afterwards, which you can relieve by applying ice to it. You will also be asked to rest and wait to resume your normal activities until the following day. If you begin having degenerative disc disease pain again, your doctor might recommend having another injection after enough time has passed since your last one.