Epidural steroid injections are a common method to treat acute and chronic low back and leg pain, or neck-related arm pain. In both conditions, spinal nerves get inflamed and painful due to narrowing of the space where the nerves travel in your spine. An epidural places powerful anti-inflammatory medication around spinal nerves to reduce that inflammation and improve pain.
At Virginia Spine Institute, the decision to perform additional injections is made only after careful observation and follow up regarding how prior injections have impacted your pain and quality of life. We usually do not prescribe a series of injections.
Your body makes its own internal steroid called cortisol. This natural steroid has various functions, some of which include regulating metabolism and helping reduce inflammation. When you combine cortisol with the artificial steroids you take, too many steroids in your body can be harmful. High levels of steroids can artificially affect various bodily functions such as: causing high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, lowered immune system, and low bone density. That being said, “too much” means constant regular doses, orally or injected.
Like most things in life, moderation is the key. A limited number, or amount, of steroids can be used very effectively to help you with your overall quality of life. When used appropriately and judiciously, steroids are very efficient in treating many pains associated with inflammation.
The goal is to use steroid injections as one part of a comprehensive treatment plan. By reducing pain and inflammation, you are able to participate in further preventative treatments such as physical therapy and rehabilitation. This will help to strengthen and increase your range of motion. Steroid injections are less beneficial when used alone, and tend to lead to recurrent pain and repeat injections beyond safe amounts.
There is very minimal pain while receiving an injection. The local anesthetic in your injection acts to temporarily numb the area being injected.
Dr. Niteesh Bharara
Director of Regenerative Medicine
Orthopedic Specialist - Non-Surgical Sports Medicine
Dr. Thomas Nguyen I Regenerative Medicine Specialist
Reviewed by: Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS.