Epidural Injections - Low Back (Lumbar)
IntroductionEpidural injections are a non-surgical treatment option for low back (lumbar) pain and pain radiating into the legs. The procedure involves delivering pain relieving medications directly to or near the source of the pain in the spine during a short outpatient procedure. Epidural injections can be very effective for some people and may be repeated over time. For some, physical rehabilitation is possible once the pain has been relieved.
Your spinal cord is located within the protective spinal canal. The spinal cord extends from the brain and is a major part of your nervous system. The spinal cord does not fill the entire space in the spinal canal. Instead, the spinal cord is surrounded by the epidural space (cavity), which contains tissue, nerves, and blood vessels.
Spinal nerves extending from the spinal cord travel out of the lumbar spine to the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet. The spinal cord and nerves at the lumbar spine level send signals for sensation and movement between your brain and lower body muscles. The spinal cord tapers near the first lumbar vertebra and forms a group of nerves called the cauda equina. The cauda equina is involved with regulating bowel and bladder functions.
Epidural injections are short outpatient procedures that can be given at a surgery center, hospital, or your doctor’s clinic. You will wear a gown for the procedure. You will be positioned sitting up or lying on your side or stomach. Before you receive the epidural injection, your lower back area will be sterilized, and numbed with an anesthetic. You may receive a relaxing medication before your procedure begins.
Your doctor will use a live X-ray image (fluoroscopy) to carefully insert and guide the needle to the epidural space. A contrast dye is used to confirm the needle placement. A hypoallergenic dye is necessary for patients with allergies to shellfish or iodine dye. Next, the medication solution is delivered to the epidural space, and the needle is removed.
You will be monitored for several minutes before you can return home. Your doctor will instruct you on how to relieve temporary mild pain at the injection site. Most people can resume their regular activities the next day.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.