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When is an Epidural Steroid Injection the Right Choice for Your Back Pain?

Millions of Americans experience chronic back pain. Chronic back pain can make performing simple tasks difficult and make it hard to enjoy life.

Corticosteroid injections are sometimes part of plans to manage chronic back pain. However, these injections aren’t appropriate for everyone. As with any medication, the benefits and side effects must be considered. The care providers at Peninsula Orthopedic Associates can advise you on the suitability of epidural steroid injections for your back pain. 

Types of back pain

Most causes of back pain are short-term. With time and rest, your body can usually heal the damage. This is true for muscle sprains and other soft tissue injuries as well as seemingly major problems, such as herniated discs. In most cases, back pain resulting from these conditions can heal on their own or be treated effectively without turning to steroids.

Chronic back pain tends to stem from structural damage in your spine that causes nerve compression. This may result from changes brought on by spinal stenosis, for example. Spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spaces in your spine, can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves branching from it. 

When more conservative treatments fail to provide adequate relief, epidural steroid injections may be an alternative.

Benefits of epidural steroid injections

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatories that can reduce the swelling of sites in the epidural region of the spine. The epidural region is the outermost part of the spinal canal, and it contains nerve roots, connective tissue, blood vessels, and other tissue.

If a structural problem compresses the nerves in this area, corticosteroids can reduce the inflammation and subdue the pain. Epidural steroid injections are primarily for pain relief. They don’t generally aid in healing, though your body may benefit from periods of reduced inflammation.

Drawbacks of steroid injections

While corticosteroids have a beneficial effect on inflamed tissue, injections can be accompanied by negative side effects over time. Treatments are limited to a few times a year because the medication may weaken bone and muscle tissue if overused.

Furthermore, corticosteroids are synthetic versions of the hormones cortisone and hydrocortisone, which are found naturally in your body. Epidural injections change the hormone balances in your body, and it is therefore necessary to put time in between injections to return your body to its natural balance.

If you have chronic back pain and want to see if epidural steroid injections can help you, book an appointment online or over the phone with Peninsula Orthopedic Associates today.

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