February 27, 2024

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Why You Might Feel More Pain After an Epidural Steroid Injection

3 min read

Among the many treatments offered for spinal stenosis and herniated discs is a therapy known as transforaminal epidural steroid injection. The therapy is an injection therapy that relies on a combination of anesthetic and steroidal medications to relieve pain. Unfortunately, it is possible to feel more pain immediately after treatment.

Lone Star Pain Medicine is a Weatherford, TX pain management clinic that recommends transforaminal epidural steroid injections to release certain types of back pain. They say it is safe and effective. When patients do experience post-procedure pain, Lone Star clinicians say that it tends to only last a few days.

What many patients do not understand going in is that epidural steroid injections don’t promise immediate pain relief. Generally, two to three days of additional pain is about average for those who experience it. After that, the actual effects of the therapy begin to kick in.

How the Injections Work

An epidural steroid injection utilizes both an anesthetic and a steroid medication. The anesthetic is only intended to provide temporary pain relief during the actual procedure and in the hours immediately following. It is utilized to make the procedure easier for people who have difficulty with needles.

As for the actual pain relief promised by epidural injections, it comes by way of reduced inflammation. That is where the steroid medications come in. They bathe the affected area and gradually reduce inflammation over several days. As inflammation goes down, pain subsides.

Pain Immediately After the Procedure

When patients do experience more pain after the procedure, the root cause is normally an increase in pressure that further irritates already inflamed nerves. The principle should be simple enough to understand.

Epidural steroid injections are applied to a very small epidural space. Injecting liquid medications into the small space temporarily increases pressure while the medication does its job. That increased pressure causes temporary pain by further irritating nerves.

The good news is that this additional pain is only temporary. Most patients gradually feel it subside over the course of several days. By the third day, most patients feel no additional pain at all.

The Risk of Infection

Transforaminal epidural steroid injections are minimally invasive and safe. In addition to the possibility of temporary pain, the only other side effect of note is the risk of infection. It is not a major risk, but it’s one that exists with all types of injections.

A doctor will typically recommend that the patient monitor the injection site for several days following treatment. If the site becomes tender, inflamed, and discolored, there is a chance that it is infected. A standard course of treatment would be followed to eliminate the infection.

Not a Curative Treatment

One last thing to know about transforaminal epidural steroid injection is that it is not a curative treatment by nature. In other words, the anesthetic and steroid medications will not cure the underlying problem causing the pain. Steroid injections are only designed to offer pain relief.

Many cases involving injections are such that no curative treatment as possible. Doctors and patients have little option but to manage the pain as best they can. Epidural steroid injections are a good choice, providing relief that lasts anywhere from several weeks to several months.

Anyone suffering from chronic back pain would do well to learn about epidural steroid injections. The injections are not the best choice in every case, as the root causes of back pain can differ from one patient to the next. But they are an option to look at along with the more traditional treatments doctors recommend.

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