Do you suffer from chronic pain? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Statistics show that 1 in 10 Americans has had pain on a daily basis for three months or more. The most common types of chronic pain include lower back pain and neck pain. If you are like most people who suffer from pain on a regular basis, you have most likely tried a variety of treatment options.
One option you don’t want to overlook is injection therapy. While there are many types of injection therapy, including facet joint injections and trigger point injections, one type that is used specifically to treat chronic neck and back pain is epidural injections.
Epidural steroid injections are administered to the epidural space, which is located in the spinal column. Cervical and lumbar epidurals are commonly used to treat pain in the neck and back. These injections contain a corticosteroid, which is a steroid hormone that gets produced in the adrenal cortex.
The primary function of corticosteroids is to reduce inflammation, which in turn will reduce pain. Sometimes chronic neck and back pain are caused by a medical condition that affects the spine. If you have neck or back pain that is caused by any one of the following four conditions, epidural injections provide an effective treatment option.
The largest and longest nerve in the human body is called the sciatic nerve. This nerve extends from the lower back all the way to the thighs. When you experience pain that radiates anywhere along this nerve, it usually means the nerve is compressed, which causes inflammation and pain.
This condition is referred to as sciatica, which is a form of spinal compression. Besides radiating pain, other symptoms include:
- Pain that ranges from mild to excruciating
- Pain that worsens with coughing, sneezing, or prolonged sitting or standing
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness in the leg or foot
If you have any of these symptoms, seek treatment immediately. If you wait too long, sciatica can cause permanent nerve damage.
2. Spinal Stenosis
When the spaces within your spine become too narrow, a condition called spinal stenosis develops. This narrowing causes nerve compression and adds pressure to the spinal cord. This spine condition can either happen in the lower back (lumbar stenosis) or in the neck (cervical stenosis).
Some of the most common symptoms associated with spinal stenosis include:
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness in the arm, hand, foot, or leg
- Neck or back pain
- Problems with coordination and balance
Spinal stenosis usually develops slowly over time. Pain associated with this condition comes and goes and is usually not continuous. While it is rare, untreated spinal stenosis can cause permanent incontinence and paralysis.
3. Cervical Spondylosis
Considered a degenerative condition of the spine, cervical spondylosis is usually caused by osteoarthritis in the spine, wear and tear, or the vertebra in the neck region becoming weakened.
In many cases of cervical spondylosis, the individual does not experience any symptoms which indicate a problem. If symptoms do occur, they usually show up in the following ways:
- Recurring headaches that start in the neck
- Pain and stiffness in the neck, arms, or shoulders
- Difficulty turning or bending the neck
Sometimes, all that you need to do to alleviate the symptoms of cervical spondylosis is to get enough rest. However, if the condition affects the spinal cord, you may experience more severe symptoms, including abnormal reflexes, difficulty walking, and tingling in the extremities. When left untreated, cervical spondylosis can cause permanent nerve damage.
4. Herniated Disc
The spine is made up of individual bones called vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are rubbery discs that function as shock absorbers. These discs allow the back to bend and flex.
Over time, the discs begin to wear out. Eventually, the soft part of the disc pushes through the hard exterior, resulting in a condition called a slipped or herniated disc. When this happens, the herniated disc irritates the surrounding nerves, causing back pain and inflammation in the spine.
Along with back pain, other symptoms of a herniated disk include:
- Pain in the arms, legs, calf, and buttocks
- Numbness and tingling in various parts of the body
- Muscle weakness that causes stumbling while walking
When left untreated, a herniated disc can cause the above symptoms to become worse, which makes it very difficult to perform everyday tasks and activities. A person can also experience something called saddle anesthesia, which refers to a progressive loss of sensation in the inner thighs, buttocks, and the back of the legs.
If you suffer from chronic neck and back pain or have any of the spine conditions listed above, contact Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates to schedule your appointment. We welcome the opportunity to discuss how epidural steroid injections can treat your condition and help you find some much-needed pain relief.