Are Epidural Steroid Injections Safe?

Americans and back pain are no strange bedfellows — a whopping 80% of the population reports some experience with low back pain. More eye-opening still is the fact that 20% of those who suffer from acute low back pain go on to struggle with chronic problems that last months, and even years.

At New Tampa Interventional Pain & Sports Medicine, under the experienced guidance of Dr. Jose De La Torre, our team routinely helps our patients find much-needed relief from back and leg pain, and one of the most effective tools in our arsenal is an epidural steroid injection.

Here’s a look at what an epidural steroid injection is, when it’s appropriate, and why it’s considered safe.

Getting to the source of your pain

Your back is an incredibly complex structure that lies at the heart of your musculoskeletal system. This foundation provides support, mobility, range of motion, and balance for your body, thanks to the combined effort of your:

But not only does your back provide crucial support, it also acts as the primary conduit for your nervous system through your spinal canal. Unfortunately, what this means is that there are many sensitive nerve roots and nerves that branch out from your spine, which is made abundantly clear when they’re compromised. 

To ease the pain, we go straight to the source and address the nerve roots in your epidural space, which is the outermost area of your spinal canal. 

The epidural injection

The goal of an epidural steroid injection is twofold. First, we want to provide you with relief from your pain, and second, we want to reduce the inflammation that’s causing the pain. To accomplish both, our epidural injections typically contain a steroid (cortisone) to address inflammation and a local anesthetic (such as lidocaine) to provide pain relief. As well, the injection usually contains saline, which helps flush away inflammatory agents in the area.

Why an epidural injection?

Epidural steroid injections are great solutions for those who are suffering from chronic back pain that resists more conservative treatments and shows no sign of letting up. In most cases, we use epidural steroid injections for people with:

To be sure, there are other conditions that may benefit from an epidural steroid injection, but these represent the lion’s share of cases.

Are epidural injections safe?

We understand why the thought of inserting a needle into your spinal canal may give you pause, but the fact is that epidural injections are considered very safe. In fact, these injections have been in practice for decades and complications are uncommon.

To ensure your safety, we use fluoroscopy (X-ray guidance) to direct the needle to the right area, as well as a contrast dye. From there, it takes just minutes for Dr. De La Torre to administer the injection, after which you’re free to return home. 

It’s important if you’re considering an epidural steroid injection to choose a doctor who has considerable experience in this arena, which certainly describes our own Dr. De La Torre.

If you’d like to get relief from your chronic back pain with an epidural steroid injection, you’re in great hands at New Tampa Interventional Pain & Sports Medicine. Simply give our office in Wesley Chapel, Florida, a call at 813-324-2858.

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