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May, 2021

Benefits of Epidural Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Monday, May 24th, 2021

Epidural Steroid Injections for Back PainCoping with pain is a part of life. Much of the time, pain results from an injury or accident and lasts only a short time. Some pain may come and go but have little effect on your daily activities. However, other kinds of pain are chronic and interfere with your quality of life.

One of the most prevalent areas of the body to experience pain is in the back. Back pain is so commonplace that it is estimated that up to 80% of people will suffer from it in some form during their lifetime. The good news is that even for serious conditions, treatment and relief are available. These interventions come in many modalities, including medication, exercises, and even surgery. Your doctor may even recommend epidural steroid injections for back pain. It is helpful to understand how this works and what the benefits are.

The Effects of Back Pain

Back pain can affect people of all ages, though it is most severe and prevalent in the older population. Back pain can occur anywhere along the spinal column and radiate outwardly to other parts of the body. The pain can feel sharp, throbbing, or burning, depending on the condition. It can cause numbness and tingling. Some people feel weakness. Back pain can originate from or attack discs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves. The symptoms can range from barely noticeable to excruciating and debilitating.

Back pain is so extensive throughout the population that there are economic consequences. It results in lost time from work, affecting individuals and companies. More than $86 billion is spent annually in the United States to treat back pain. People who become incapacitated and can no longer work may also feel the effects of stress and anxiety. It can also lead to a loss of enjoyment of favorite activities and time with loved ones.

Types of Back Pain

Back pain takes many forms, with numerous conditions accounting for it. Herniated or bulging discs, also known as pinched nerve, are common. This happens when the rubbery cushions between vertebrae begin to push out of their exterior coverings. Pinched nerves can also occur along the back. This often occurs when a muscle puts excessive pressure on a nerve. Other back conditions can include strains, sprains, fractures, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

Understanding Epidural Injections

A doctor may recommend epidural injections for back pain. This treatment is designed to numb the pain and reduce any inflammation causing discomfort or limiting mobility. It is a medication that the doctor will inject with a needle into the back, usually right outside a sac of fluid that has built up near the spinal cord. The steroid, combined with a numbing medication, will decrease swelling and minimize pressure on nerves in the back. Epidural injections are usually performed by interventional pain specialists, orthopedic spine surgeons, neurologists, and physiatrists (PM&R physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors).

More About the Procedure

To prepare for the injection, the patient dresses in a gown and lies on a table face-down. After cleaning the injection site, the doctor will use an X-ray for direction on where to place the needle. This will usually be in the lower part of the back. The process only takes about 30 minutes. There will be some epidural steroid injection recovery time under the doctor’s supervision. Ordinarily, the patient will remain in the office for 15 or 20 minutes until the doctor is satisfied that there will be no adverse effects. Most patients do not feel any pain during the procedure, though there can be some pressure. The patient should remain motionless during the injection. This will ensure that the doctor places the needle in the correct spot.

The Right Candidates

An epidural steroid injection makes sense for someone who is enduring extreme back pain. If you have pain in any area of your back, you may be a good candidate, especially if other interventions have not been effective. It is also worth exploring if your back pain has been consistent or constant for four to six weeks. The injections may be right for you if pain medication has not provided the relief you need.

Living with back pain can hinder your quality of life. It can have both physical and emotional health effects. You should not have to live under these conditions any longer. Speak to your doctor today about getting an epidural steroid injection.

How Does Physical Therapy Help a Herniated Disc?

Saturday, May 22nd, 2021

Physical Therapy for a Herniated DiscDealing with back pain is not an unusual problem. Many people suffer from pain and soreness in this area at some point. You may not worry much if the pain is occasional or minor. However, when it is persistent and intensifies, you need to get relief right away. A frequent type of back ailment is a herniated disc, which can be twice as likely in men than women. It can bring extreme pain and hinder your mobility and range of motion. You may have difficulties completing basic tasks and enjoying regular activities. To treat a herniated disc, health care professionals can offer a variety of methods. Often, physical therapy is an effective measure.

Understanding the Condition

In between the vertebrae in your back are rubbery cushions called discs. These act as a sort of shock absorber and hold the spine together. Discs also promote effective mobility and range of motion. A herniated disc, also known as slipped disc, occurs when the center of the disc pushes out through the tough exterior. This results in discomfort and often excruciating pain and can happen at any point along the spine. Frequently the condition impacts nerves in the area. Herniated discs can affect people of all ages, though people ages 35 to 55 are more likely to suffer these effects. Excess weight, wear and tear, twisting, turning, heavy lifting can cause a herniated disc. Traumatic injuries resulting from auto and work-related accidents are a common cause of this painful condition.

The Symptoms

Some common signs would tell you that you may have a herniated disc. Although back pain may seem like a prominent symptom, the discomfort can also be present in the legs and buttocks. Pain can radiate down the back into these areas as well as into the feet. If you have a herniated disc, you may feel numbness or tingling in your legs or feet. You could also experience muscle weakness and struggle to walk. These sensations can also affect your flexibility. Pain near the shoulder blades and neck spasms are also common effects of the condition.

Choosing Physical Therapy

There are various ways to treat a herniated disc. A doctor may prescribe medication to combat the pain and help you have a better range of motion. In severe cases, a doctor may also recommend getting surgery. However, for non-invasive, drug-free solutions, physical therapy is a good option. A doctor or chiropractor may recommend physical therapy for a herniated disc. It is usually an ongoing activity rather than a few visits to a therapist. How long it lasts and how often you would go depends on the severity of your symptoms.

Stretching

Going through a series of targeted stretches is often an effective way to relieve the effects of a herniated disc. A therapist will teach you the proper ways to stretch your back. These techniques can improve your flexibility and prepare you for additional treatments you may undergo. A nice aspect of stretching is that you can do these exercises at home as directed by the therapist or as needed for pain relief.

Building Muscle

The muscles in your back and neck have a direct effect on the skeletal system of these areas. Physical therapy for a herniated disc may include strength training and increasing your muscle mass. As you develop more muscle strength, you are better able to withstand pain. Strong muscles also provide good support for the back.

Core Strength

Related to this is the importance of building your core. Strengthening abdominal muscles is an excellent way to support the vertebrae and relieve the discomfort from a herniated disc. A physical therapist will lead you in exercises and activities to improve your abdominal strength. The therapist may assess how weakness in this area is putting strain on your back, increasing the pain already present because of the herniated disc.

Hot Water

A physical therapist may even recommend hydrotherapy. This tactic can soothe the back pain you are feeling. Sitting in a hot tub can also relax the muscles in the back. The therapist may include aerobic exercises in hot water.

Not every intervention for back pain has to be invasive or involve medication. If these ailments hinder your quality of life, consider doing some of these exercises or visiting a physical therapist to treat a herniated disc and find the relief you need.