Epidural injections are performed for management of neck or back pain.
The spinal cord and the nerves have a covering called the dura. The space around the dura is called the epidural space. The procedure is done under local anaesthetic.
The doctor will initially numb the skin and deeper tissues with a numbing medicine. Unlike lumbar epidurals performed during childbirth, a special x-ray machine called a fluoroscope is then used to guide the needle accurately into the epidural space. A contrast medium may be injected to confirm the needle position. A mixture of local anaesthetic and steroid is then injected slowly into the epidural space.
The local anaesthetic can provide immediate pain relief but the steroid can take a few days to work. Pain relief from lumbar epidural injections can last several months and in some cases may help to delay risky interventions such as back surgery.
Although they may last several months for some patients, they are typically a less permanent form of pain relief; in our office these injections serve a diagnostic and prognostic purpose. If your pain is relieved with an epidural injection, it may be performed up to three times before moving on to a more permanent solution such as radiofrequency ablation and/or surgery.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a medical procedure in which part of the electrical conduction system of the a tumor or other dysfunctional tissue is ablated using the heat generated from medium frequency alternating current to alleviate pain.
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