Florida Pain Medicine is a rotation site and teaching facility for USF Health ACGME Pain Medicine Fellowship and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency.

How Epidural Injections Block Your Pain and Give You Relief

How Epidural Injections Block Your Pain and Give You Relief

Back and neck pain take a toll on your life. The ongoing pain drains your energy, forces you to take time away from work, and stops you from the activities you enjoy. As if back and neck pain aren't enough, the spine conditions responsible for your pain frequently cause arm and leg pain.

When you need relief from the pain, it's time to talk with the team at Florida Pain Medicine about epidural injections. Epidural injections deliver long-lasting relief as they target the source of your pain with potent medications. Here's what you need to know about epidural injections and how they work.

Epidural injections ease pain from many conditions

Epidural injections effectively alleviate neck, back, leg, and arm pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves. In most cases, the nerves are irritated and inflamed because they're pinched by age-related spine conditions.

We may recommend an epidural injection when you need relief from the pain caused by:

In addition to back and neck pain, inflamed spinal nerves often cause tingling, pain, and burning sensations that travel down your arms or legs. Treatments that target the nerves also help diminish radiating pain.

How epidural injections work

Epidural injections are named after the area in your spine where we inject the medications, the epidural space. This space lies between the protective membrane covering your spinal cord and the vertebrae. 

The epidural space is filled with fat, blood vessels, and nerve roots. At each vertebra in your spine, a group of nerves leaves the spinal cord to carry messages from your brain to your body. And at each vertebrae, another group of nerves enters the spinal cord as they carry messages from your body to your brain.

All the individual nerves leaving (or returning to) the spine through the same vertebra cluster together. The cluster is called a nerve root. Nerve roots are all located in the epidural space. They’re important because we target them during an epidural injection.

Epidural medications ease the pain

Epidural injections contain two medications, a local anesthetic and steroids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory medications. Using real-time imaging, we guide the needle into the epidural space, position it next to the targeted nerve root, and inject the medications.

The anesthetic immediately blocks signals traveling through the nerves. As a result, your brain doesn't get pain messages, and you get rapid pain relief. Though your relief comes quickly, it's short-lived because it only lasts until the anesthetic wears off.

It takes a few days for steroids to reduce nerve inflammation. But once the medication takes hold, you experience longer-lasting pain relief. Steroids may ease the pain for weeks, months, or years, it varies for each person. 

Steroids plus epidural space equals optimal relief

Epidural injections produce exceptional pain relief because the medications flow through the epidural space, surrounding the nerves and exposing the entire nerve root to pain-relieving medication.

We can give you an epidural injection anywhere along your spine, from the top of your neck down to your tailbone. When needed to give you optimal pain relief, we can inject medication near several nerve roots.

If you need relief from pain, call Florida Pain Medicine, or book an appointment online to learn if you’re a good candidate for an epidural injection.

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