Should You Get an Epidural for That Chronic Back Pain?

Apr 01, 2023
Should You Get an Epidural for That Chronic Back Pain?
Chronic back pain affects nearly every area of your life, from exercise to sleep. If you have not found relief from first-line treatments, it may be time to consider an epidural injection. Read on to learn more.

Back pain is a prevalent problem, affecting approximately 80% of Americans at some point. It’s one of the main reasons people visit the doctor each year. However, even though it’s a widespread problem, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to find relief. That’s because pain in any region of your back, from your neck to your lower spine, can have several causes.

At Spine & Pain Center of San Antonio, in San Antonio, TX,  our pain management specialists offer numerous interventional pain treatments that can relieve various symptoms. One standard way to relieve back and neck pain is with epidural injections. This minimally invasive procedure delivers powerful medications directly into the epidural space of your spine. But, while highly effective, epidural injections only work for specific types of back pain.

Here are a few reasons we recommend an epidural injection.

Your pain involves nerves

Several things can cause back pain, from soft tissue damage and joint degeneration to skeletal issues and broken bones. However, when a nerve becomes involved, it can trigger additional symptoms that radiate from your back and into your arms or legs, such as tingling, numbness, or weakness.

Epidural injections reduce swelling, inflammation, and pressure on your spinal canal's nerves and nerve roots. Common back problems that can cause nerve pain include:

  • Herniated or “slipped” discs
  • Pinched nerves
  • Joint cysts
  • Sciatica 
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Bone spurs
  • Degenerative disc disease

An epidural injection is usually less effective if you have more generalized back pain or symptoms that don’t radiate from a specific location. 

We recommend more conservative therapies for back pain first; however, if you have severe or intense pain, an epidural may be in order. 

Anti-inflammatory and anesthetic medications don’t cure back injuries, but they can help reduce inflammation while you heal, which, in turn, can alleviate your discomfort. 

For some patients, epidural injections provide immediate pain relief, but they can take up to two weeks to take effect. Depending on your symptoms and diagnosis, we may recommend a series of 3-6 injections a year to manage your pain or support your recovery process.

We always begin with conservative treatment for back pain. Our specialists may suggest an epidural injection if you have chronic back pain and haven’t found relief from more conservative therapies.

We always start with conservative treatment 

Before recommending an epidural, we advocate more conservative treatments. 

These conservative treatments may include:

  • Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs,
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic therapy

However, if first-line remedies have been unsuccessful, an epidural may be the answer.

You don’t have to accept chronic back pain at Spine & Pain Center of San Antonio, we can help. Call to book a consultation, or use the online scheduling tool to request an appointment today.