A herniated disc steroid injection is one of the most common types of epidural injections used for diagnosed disc-related concerns, as well as a wide range of other back pain issues. This type of injection therapy is typically called a steroid shot or cortisone injection by recipients.
Steroid compounds have a long history as part of the herniated disc treatment arena, in both oral and injected forms. Steroids are primarily utilized as a means of decreasing swelling and are typically combined with other substances to provide pain relief and the dilution of potentially pain-inducing nucleus pulposus proteins in the spinal region.
This dialog details the use of steroid injections for the treatment of various types of spinal disc pathologies.
Cortisone injections for herniated discs are a very common moderate treatment modality and are usually used once more conservative measures have proven unsuccessful. During the epidural injection procedure, a needle is placed into the anatomical compartment which surrounds the spine and one or more substances are introduced to provide a beneficial response.
In the case of steroid injections, the most commonly used substances include some form of cortisteroid including: kenalog, celestone, methylprednisolone acetate, triamcinolone acetonide and dexamethasone, although most of the time these compounds are mixed with topical anesthetics and flushing solutions, such as sterile saline.
Steroids are used to combat inflammation and speed healing. For actual traumatic injuries, this treatment may be a good idea, but for most chronic pain scenarios, it may be little more than a temporary anesthetic fix. As Dr. John Sarno has taught, there is seldom any evidence of an inflammatory process in the majority of painful herniated disc expressions.
Epidural injections featuring flushing solutions may be indicated for chemical radiculitis patients, but actual cases of this syndrome are rare and often controversial in their diagnosis. In the majority of patients, it is clear that most of benefits derived from steroid epidurals come from the potent local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, which is often the effective part of the injected pharmaceutical cocktail.
Cortisone, and other types of epidural injections, will only provide symptomatic treatment and will not cure anything, except in true cases of chemical radiculitis. Even in these radicular pain scenarios where symptoms are elicited by irritating proteins, relief could probably be provided by sterile saline alone.
Epidural injections often involve complications, especially when they are not administered by a surgeon or using the live x-ray technology called fluoroscopy. Most of the risks are minor, but some can be significant. Spinal fluid leaks, sometimes requiring corrective surgery, continued bleeding and infection are all common complications of these moderate injection therapies. Do not take these risks lightly, but instead be sure to discuss them openly with your doctor.
Remember that the main risk of epidurals is their almost universally temporary nature and many patients only enjoy relief for a few days, if at all, before the pain returns in earnest.