Poorly managed back pain is a major source of distress for many individuals. It’s associated with anxiety and depression, and it’s no wonder. In their attempt to avoid pain, many back pain sufferers become sedentary, giving up activities they once loved.
Unfortunately, lack of activity can be just as much of a risk factor for back pain as overuse.
Anti-inflammatories for back pain, especially when used in the long term, raise the risk for a number of complications, including kidney damage, gastrointestinal bleeding, and ulcers. Meanwhile, opiates can become addictive.
If you’re looking to relieve pain without using anti-inflammatories or opiates, or without undergoing surgery, epidural injections could be the answer. Below, we asked Dr. Shoeb Mohiuddin, our expert at Regenerative Pain & Spine, to explain when epidural injections are the best strategy for back pain.
Epidurals can relieve pain with minimal side effects. The solution is injected at the site of pain, compared to oral medications that must bypass the digestive system and can end up causing various effects throughout the body.
Additionally, the relief experienced from epidurals can last months at a time, eliminating the need to remember to take your medications constantly.
Specialists often recommend epidurals when physical therapy and other noninvasive treatment methods fail to work. Epidurals also allow you to become active again, reducing the need for surgery in the future.
How an epidural is done
The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes and is done on an outpatient basis. First, you’ll be asked to change into a gown and lay on your belly on an X-ray table. Our staff will clean the area on your back at the site of the injection and apply some anesthesia so you’ll feel comfortable throughout the whole process.
Our experts then guide the needle into the epidural space in your spine using an X-ray machine that provides images in real-time.
Epidural mechanism of action and side effects
Epidural injections relieve pain by lowering the inflammation that’s putting pressure on nerves. For a short period, an epidural may worsen the pain before it reduces it. Diabetics may also see their blood sugar levels spike for a day or two following an epidural.
Find out if you’re a good candidate for an epidural
If you’re looking for long-term relief for your chronic pain, contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in the West Ridge neighborhood, Chicago, Illinois.