Can Epidural Injections Help Pain Relief?


Epidural injections have been considered as the best therapeutic option for various types of pains namely; leg, back, neck and arm pain. ESIs have been around for a long time and are regarded as a vital part of the treatment of pains of the back and sciatica. An epidural injection is a non-surgical form of treatment that is used for relieving pain caused by spinal nerves that are inflamed as a result of disc herniation or spinal stenosis. The injection is minimally invasive because it involves the injection of a steroid medicine and a local anesthetic right into the epidural region surrounding an individual’s spinal cord. The injection is referred to as an epidural steroid injection.

The purpose of epidural injection is to:

  • Enable patient participation in a complete physical treatment and rehabilitation program with the goal of achieving progress.
  • Alleviate pain by minimizing inflammation in and around the root nerve
  • Improve lower back and leg mobility and function

After several non-surgical therapies, including physical therapy and medications have been attempted and there are considerations for doing surgery, an epidural steroid injection may be recommended during a patient’s care program. The purpose of the injection is usually to offer enough pain relief to allow a return to normal activities and progress in physical treatment.

Here is an analysis of how epidural steroid injections can help relieve pain, especially in the relief/remedy of sciatica and lower back pains.

Advantages of Epidural Injections in Pain Relief

Most practitioners will tell you that an epidural steroid injection can be effective during an acute bout of back and/or leg discomfort. The injections’ main disadvantages are that they are not effective at all times, and when they are, the pain relief is temporary, lasting anywhere from a week to a year. If the first injection is successful, up to three more injections may be given within a year.

Steroid injections in the lumbar epidural space may offer the following benefits:

  • Limit the amount of medication taken orally – The pain relief offered by epidural injections may eliminate or reduce the need for medications taken orally, some of which have long-term effects.
  • Minimize inflammation and nerve pain- Steroids lower the generation of inflammatory substances and the sensitivity of nerve fibers to pain, thus resulting in fewer signals being generated.
  • Enables patient’s re-engagement/ continuation of physical therapy- An epidural injection may provide enough pain relief for a patient, enabling the patient to continue with physical therapy/remedy.
  • Postponement of surgical procedure – Pain alleviation by lumbar epidural injections may delay surgery, and if the physical remedy is successful, it may eliminate the need for surgery altogether. Epidural injections may be administered in several ways, depending on the patient’s underlying disease, demands and the physician’s experience and preference.

Approaches in Epidural Injection for Pain Relief

Since a steroid medicine with a strong anti-inflammatory effect is directly injected into the painful location near the body’s spinal nerve, this sort of injection may offer immediate and considerable pain relief(s). Any of the following approaches can be used for the administration of an epidural injection.

  • Caudal Route – In this approach, the drug does not reach directly to the cause of the pain in the epidural region and around the nerves. Although the caudal method is less effective, it is thought to be safer and easier to perform. This approach may aid in managing pain that is either subtle or extensive.
  • Transforaminal Route – Transforaminal route enables for precision injection of the steroid solution into the epidural region, close to the nerve’s likely inflamed area. To decrease inflammation and pain relief, this injectable technique targets specific nerve roots. It is usually done in the neck area.
  • Inter-laminar Route – This approach is less accurate because the drug is not deposited near the targeted nerve root and the steroid solution is free to disperse inside the epidural region.

When Can ESIS Be Used?

They are usually used to treat conditions that cause spinal nerve roots inflammation and or irritation with related leg and lower back pain. The most common lower back pain illnesses that are treated using this method include lumbar spinal stenosis, lumbar degenerative disc disease and lumbar herniated disc.

Injection’s Effectiveness in Pain Relief

According to available studies, 70 percent to 90 percent of patients experience pain relief from these injections, which can last anywhere from a week to a year. If the first injection has a positive reaction, a second injection may be considered after the benefits of the former injection begin to disappear. It is evident that epidural injections offer short-term pain relief and are less effective on a long-term basis. Their usefulness in decreasing pain is still debatable. There is literature in favor and against epidural injection in pain relief.