Lumbar Epidural Injection

November 12, 2012

Lumbar Epidural Injection

When the nerves located in the epidural space of the spine become inflamed it can cause varying degrees of pain and discomfort. In the more severe cases a lumbar epidural may be necessary in order to effectively relieve the pain.

Epidural space

This is the area inside the spine that surrounds the membrane known as the dura membrane, which covers the nerve roots as well as the spinal cord. Within this space are many nerves that travel from the back and down into the legs. It is possible for these nerves to become inflamed trough such things as a damaged disk or by the nerve coming into contact with another area of bone.

What is a lumbar epidural injection?

A lumbar epidural injection is able to provide relief from the pain caused by these damaged nerves through administering anti-inflammatory medicine directly into the epidural space at the source of the pain. In many cases a lumbar epidural injection will successfully relieve the pain experienced in both the back and the legs. Through the reduction in the inflammation it also makes it easier for the injury to heal, therefore speeding up the overall healing process. Some people find that a lumbar epidural injection has resulted in permanent pain relief associated with the injury and other cases the pain relief may last for months at a time. In most cases it provides enough time for the injury to heal without the patient experiencing such pain or discomfort.

During the procedure

Just before the lumbar epidural injection is given, the patient will be attached to a UV drip in order to help them to relax. The patient will be positioned on their side and an x-ray machine will be used to provide the physician with a visual aid of the affected area and the exact location that the injection will be given. The skin of the lower back will be sterilised and small area of skin will be numbed. This medicine used to numb the area will often sting for a couple of seconds. The physician will wait for the appropriate amount of time for the numbing medicine to take effect. Using the x-ray machine for guidance, the needle will then be inserted into the epidural space. A contrast dye will be inserted at the same time in order for the physician to be able to identify and confirm that the needle is in the correct location. An anti-inflammatory steroid is then inserted mixed with anaesthetic completing the lumbar epidural injection procedure.

After the procedure

Immediately after the procedure the patient will be monitored and when discharged they will be asked to complete a post injection evaluation sheet, whereby they must record the pain relief they experience over the following days or weeks. Lumbar epidural injections are often administered in three sessions, with each one a few weeks apart. It is common for the patient to experience some weakness or numbing sensation in their legs immediately after the procedure.

General info

As with all medical procedure’s it is important to follow the guidelines and instructions provided by your own physician both before and after a lumbar epidural injection. Make sure to make your doctor aware of any other medications or health supplement you are taking at the time and don’t stop taking medication unless specifically instructed to by your doctor.

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