Myths and Facts About Epidural Corticosteroid Injections for Managing Your Back Pain

Myths and Facts About Epidural Corticosteroid Injections for Managing Your Back Pain

Far and away, back pain is the most common type of pain our patients see us for. And that’s no shock if you look at the stats. Upwards of 65 million folks have back pain, and 16 million have chronic cases that significantly affect their quality of life. 

There is hope in treatment; however, there’s misinformation about what some of these treatments can and can’t do. 

Dr. David Wu and our team at CurePain in Torrance, California, have years of experience addressing back pain with popular, effective treatments like epidural corticosteroid injections — that means we can also tell fact from fiction. 

Here are a few common misconceptions people have about epidurals. 

Myth: Epidural corticosteroid injections are invasive

Epidural corticosteroid injections are minimally invasive, so they don’t require incisions. However, we do have to use a needle to administer the medication. In many cases, we also give you intravenous (IV) medication just to keep you comfortable during the procedure. But many of our patients tolerate the injection easily with only local anesthesia (think lidocaine) at the injection site. 

During your injection, you lie face down on our table. Our portable X-ray machine helps us find the exact location we need to insert the needle. Once we have determined the injection site, we administer two waves of medication: First, the appropriate corticosteroid and local anesthetic, and then the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medication. 

We monitor you for about 30-60 minutes after your injection before sending you home. You should rest for the remainder of the day but expect to return to your regular routine the next day. 

Myth: All epidural corticosteroid injections are the same

The first time you heard of epidural injections was likely in the context of pregnancy. Epidural injections are popular pain-relievers among women in labor, but that’s not the same injection we use in our office. 

The process of administering the two injections is very similar. The medications are injected into the space around your spinal cord in both cases. 

The key difference lies in the medications themselves. Both contain powerful pain-relieving medication, but our epidural injection contains a special ingredient: corticosteroids. The corticosteroid in our injections decreases inflammation in addition to relieving pain. 

We also use the help of a special X-ray called fluoroscopy to guide the needle exactly where you’re feeling pain. 

Myth: Epidural corticosteroid injections aren’t foolproof

We love epidural corticosteroid injections because they’re versatile and minimally invasive, making them an option for many patients. But they aren’t magic bullets. If your friend or family member got one and felt instant relief, you shouldn’t necessarily expect the same results. 

The main goal of these medications is to deliver medication directly into your spinal nerves that are affected by conditions like:

Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s back pain is different, so the results of epidural injections vary from person to person. 

At the very least, you should expect to experience some symptom relief, and if you combine these injections with other therapies and treatments, you could reap even more results. 

We carefully consider your candidacy and talk openly about what you can expect before we make our recommendation. 

To learn more about epidural corticosteroid injections, call our friendly staff at 424-232-8930 or use our online booking tool to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wu and our team. 

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