You’ve likely heard about epidural injections helping women get through labor pain-free, but did you know that they serve a purpose outside the delivery room?
We recommend epidural injections for a wide variety of painful conditions, including sciatica. Here, Dr. Raul Lopez and our team at West Texas Pain Institute explore how epidural injections can be an effective solution to your sciatica.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica isn’t just back pain — it’s pain that spreads from your lower back to other areas of your body. It starts when your sciatic nerve (a nerve that begins in your low back and extends through your hips, buttocks, and down each leg) is irritated or compressed.
Certain conditions and injuries like spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and bone spurs are among the common causes of sciatica. Other risk factors for sciatica include:
- Increased age
- Occupations that require twisting or carrying heavy loads
- Prolonged sitting
In addition to pain along the path of the sciatic nerve, symptoms also include numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot.
Mild cases of sciatica often resolve on their own. But if your sciatica is persistent or gets progressively worse, you may need specialized treatment. Without treatment, sciatica can lead to serious complications, including loss of feeling or permanent weakness in the affected leg, and in some cases loss of bowel and bladder function.
Fortunately, Dr. Lopez offers epidural injections to address your sciatica pain quickly and conservatively. Here’s what you should know about how epidural injections work against sciatica.
How can an epidural injection help?
Epidural injections deliver a corticosteroid (a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine) directly into inflamed and irritated tissues in the epidural space of your spine.
This is the area of your spine located between your vertebral wall and the dura mater membrane. When injury and degenerative disease cause swelling in the epidural space, nerves passing through your spine become compressed, which triggers pain and other symptoms.
Once injected, the medicine reduces inflammation in the epidural space, relieves pressure on your nerve, and ultimately alleviates your symptoms.
What you can expect
We perform epidural injections on an outpatient basis, and the procedure typically only takes a few minutes. During your appointment, you lay on your stomach. We begin by injecting a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable.
Dr. Lopez also uses a special type of X-ray known as fluoroscopy to precisely identify the location of your injection.
Many of our patients notice less pain within 24-48 hours of their injections, with the best results developing over the following weeks.
Ready to live life pain-free? We’re ready to help you get started. Don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at our El Paso, Texas, location.