What Is It?
The term “epidural injection” comes from the fact that the injection site is the epidural space via an opening known as the sacral hiatus in the coccyx. The injection solution usually contains an anti-inflammatory medicine like cortisone, which will lessen the inflammation and, hence, reduce the severity, frequency and duration of the pain.
Who Should Consider It?
Caudal epidurals are mostly used for radicular pain in two places, namely:
- The lumbar vertebrae, which are the strongest and largest bones in the spinal column and which comprise the lower back. The most common symptom is severe shooting pain in the leg and lower back.
- The cervical vertebrae, which are the seven bones in the neck. The pain usually starts at the neck and then radiates to the arm where it tends to concentrate.
In these two cases of epidurals, the aim is long-term pain relief for the lower back, arms and legs, as the case may be. It should be noted that epidurals may also be administered during childbirth but the effect is just on a short-term period.
Keep in mind that your doctor will determine the number of caudal epidurals necessary for pain relief in your case. If you experienced partial sustained benefits, your doctor will repeat the procedure with spacing of 2 to 4 weeks between injections. You should be able to experience varying degrees of relief within 3 to 7 days after the procedure.
How Is It Done?
Certain precautions must be adopted on the injection day including avoidance of physically strenuous activities such as driving and exercising. You can return to your usual activities albeit in a gradual manner a day after the injection.
The procedure itself is relatively simple:
- You will be asked to lie down on an x-ray table.
- Medication for relaxation will be administered via an intravenous line.
- Cleaning of the injection area will follow by the application of a topical anesthetic.
- The x-ray guidance will be used to accurately identify the epidural space.
- Injection of the contrast dye to allow for observation of the spread of the caudal epidurals medication will be next.
- The administration of the combo of numbing medicine and time-released anti-inflammatory medicine, usually a dose of cortisone, will be the last step of the procedure.
In just 10 minutes or less, the procedure should be completed with minimal discomfort and drama.
What Should Be Done After It?
Side effects do occur like partial numbness in the legs or buttocks, increase in pain levels, and slight headaches but these are temporary – just a few hours or days, max. These are usually brought on by the wearing off of the numbing medicine before the cortisone can take effect but when it does, the pain relief is observable. You can lessen the side effects by applying ice on the injection area.
Ask your doctor about caudal epidurals now so that you can finally enjoy freedom from your pain in the legs, neck and buttocks as well as your lower back.