All About Epidurals

by Dr. Halland Chen, MD

An epidural spinal injection is a procedure that a patient usually receives to relieve back pain around the spine. Epidural injections are usually one option that you can utilize in order to relieve your back pain. Thus, the purpose of this piece will be to educate you on the process of an epidural injection and help you to make an informed decision about whether this type of treatment would be the best solution for your back pain.

The Process
An epidural spinal injection usually will begin with the doctor administering a steroid into the epidural space of the spinal column in your back. This process usually only takes a few minutes. The doctor will use X-rays to find the exact location of the back pain in your back and usually will first of all give you some anesthesia for the area in order to numb the area in order to avoid causing pain to the patient. During the process the patient is asked to lay on their stomach as well. After the anesthesia is administered, the doctor will administer a contrast dye in order to properly isolate the epidural region. Finally, he will administer the solution through the needle, called a corticosteroid, into this patient’s spine. The process is not painful because of the numbing action of the anesthetic. Although this process can be uncomfortable, the pain is alleviated with the epidural method because they mimic certain chemicals, such as cortisone and hydrocortisone, which in turn help to alleviate back pain in any inflammation of the nerves. Although this process has been shown to be effective for those wishing to alleviate their back pain but it is not without its risks.

Pros and Cons
The pros of an epidural injection are that it is very effective at ending consistent back pain. There is a few large cons, however. Doctors recommend only undergoing this procedure at most a few times a year because the steroids can weaken the spine and the muscles surrounding it. The best thing to do is to talk this over with your physician to see if you are a good candidate for using epidural injections to alleviate your chronic back pain.

Learn more about Back Pain