New research has identified inflammation within and around neural structures as a common occurrence in painful conditions. Neural inflammation has been shown to facilitate pain processing and increase firing of pain neurons within ganglia, nerve roots and the spinal cord, and it is thought to be instrumental in the development and perpetuation of many types of persistent pain. The lumbar epidural steroid injection procedure (lumbar ESI procedure) is a safe and effective procedure to “put out the fire” of inflammation.
The lumbar epidural steroid injection procedure (lumbar ESI procedure) is a procedure administered to relieve pain caused by pinched or inflamed nerve(s). These epidural steroid injections can be used for various types of pain, including joint pain, herniated disc, knee pain, back and neck pain. During the lumbar epidural steroid injection procedure an injection of medication into the surrounding area helps to decrease pain and swelling of the inflamed nerve(s). Some common types of epidural steroid injection procedure used to help reduce pain are thoracic epidural steroid injection, lumbar epidural steroid injection, caudal epidural steroid injection or cervical epidural steroid injection. Although rare, risks of epidural steroid injection procedure may include infection, allergic reaction to the medication, spinal headache, nerve damage, and prolonged increase in pain and paralysis.
Epidural Injections Deliver Medication
The epidural space allows unique access to the spinal cord and nerve roots at every level of the spine. The lumbar epidural steroid injection procedure provides a safe, low-risk, nearly painless means of delivering a variety of medications directly to the nervous system. Medications used alone or in combination during the lumbar ESI procedure include steroids and local anesthetics. Once delivered into the epidural space, these medications may block pain impulses, stabilize irritated nerve structures, reduce inflammation and swelling and reverse the biochemical changes that are known to occur within the nervous system when pain persists.
An Extension of Conservative Care
Lumbar epidural steroid injection and local anesthetic injection may effectively decompress the spinal area by reversing inflammation and relieving symptoms without surgery while the body reabsorbs herniated disc material over time. Since persistent inflammation may cause pressure damage to nerves and result in fibrosis (scarring) and the formation of scar tissue within the spinal column, reversal of inflammation should be a prime goal of therapy. Spinal injection is considered an extension of conservative care by many spine specialists and, if symptoms persist, is typically performed in a series of three injections at two-week intervals.