Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) have been commonly used to treat many forms of low back pain and leg pain for several years. They are still an integral component of non-surgical management of sciatica and low back pain. The injection is often successfully combined with a comprehensive rehabilitation program.
An ESI can often encourage progress with a rehabilitative stretching and exercise program, as it provides enough pain relief for the patient to continue with the program.
In addition to the low back, epidural steroid injections are used to ease pain experienced in the neck and mid spine regions.
How do Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections Work?
ESIs deliver steroids directly into the epidural space in the spine. In some cases, additional fluid, such as local anesthetic and/or a normal saline solution, is used to eliminate inflammatory mediators from around the area that may be a source of pain.
The epidural space encircles the dural sac and is filled with fat and small blood vessels. It surrounds the spinal cord, nerve roots and cerebrospinal fluid, which is the fluid that surrounds the nerve roots.
Because inflammation is a common component of many back conditions, reducing inflammation drastically helps reduce pain. Thus, a steroid is injected as an anti-inflammatory agent, providing relief from pain.