Back Pain? Consider A Steroid Injection

Millions of people suffer from chronic back pain each year. If left untreated, the pain can lead to more serious medical issues. The exact cause of the pain can vary based on each patient’s circumstances. Some common causes include herniated discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica, or post-surgical complications. Sometimes, an injury or arthritis is the culprit. Whatever the reason, a transforaminal epidural steroid injection is a great, non-surgical option to relieve pain symptoms. The medication helps reduce inflammation and relieves associated symptoms like muscle spasms, numbness, and tingling.

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Filling the space

What is a transforaminal epidural spinal injection? The procedure relieves chronic pain caused by spinal nerve compression from bones or herniated discs. A doctor or pain management specialist injects a steroid medication directly into the epidural space around the affected nerve roots. The injection reduces inflammation and eases the pain. Epidural spinal injections are commonly recommended for those with limited success with other forms of non-surgical treatment.

What happens during your injection?

Transforaminal spinal injections are quick procedures that require no incisions or recovery time. The doctor or specialist begins with imaging tests such as an x-ray or MRI, which help identify compressed nerve locations. Once identified, a small needle is guided through the skin using real-time imaging guidance called fluoroscopy. Some clinics also have advanced monitoring equipment to ensure precise injection placement. Next, a steroid solution is injected into the area surrounding the nerve, providing long-term relief from inflammation and associated pain symptoms. The medical team will monitor the patient briefly to ensure no side effects and to gauge feedback. Once all is well, the patient can leave the facility.

Benefits of transforaminal epidural steroid injections

This procedure can relieve herniated discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica, and other spinal-related issues. Patients generally notice reduced discomfort, improved mobility, and increased quality of life. In addition, these injections are an excellent way to diagnose an underlying problem that may need surgery later. Best of all, patients who choose to forgo surgery can do so and still get relief. Patients can also receive multiple injections per year. Most doctors recommend 3 steroid injections yearly, which can delay pain so patients can try other non-surgical options.

Risks and Side Effects

While this procedure is generally safe and effective, some risks and side effects exist. One of the most commonly reported is a temporary increase in pain following the injection. This typically subsides within 24 hours as the medications take effect but may sometimes persist. Other potential side effects include headache, numbness or tingling in the legs, nausea, insomnia, and difficulty urinating. In rare instances, infection or nerve damage can occur at the injection site or due to medication contraindications. The doctor or specialist will explain these possible issues and provide support if necessary.

Staying pain-free

Appropriate follow-up care is essential for steroid injection patients to get the most out of the treatments. Doctors recommend rest, with ongoing physical therapy focusing on improving core strength, flexibility, posture, and endurance. Other helpful options include relaxation techniques such as yoga and anti-inflammatory medications as needed. Long-term benefits may also come from lifestyle changes, including proper dieting and regular exercise. Steroid injections have high success rates but should be part of a comprehensive pain management plan. Chronic back pain can limit mobility and impact life’s social and financial aspects. A simple injection can be the catalyst for a pain-free life.

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