Is Leg Pain Slowing You Down?
Some people experience leg pain that comes out of nowhere. The pain starts in the back, thigh, and then the lower leg. Even standing or walking becomes painful. Don’t be stunned. This pain is actually a result of an issue in the lumbar spine. Millions of people feel back pain that moves to the leg, known as sciatica. To fight the problem, some doctors depend on a lumbar epidural steroid injection. But how effective is this treatment?
What causes leg pain?
For some, the discs in the lumbar region press on the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerves are a pair of large nerves that start in the lower back and branch off to each leg. The pain begins in the back and radiates down the buttocks, thigh, and leg. The resulting pain and discomfort can be debilitating. If left untreated, leg pain can turn to numbness and weakness. Using the affected foot becomes more difficult, with some persons developing a foot drop.
A shot to the epidural space
Lumbar epidural steroid injections seek to relieve the pain caused by pinched nerves. Oral medication may help. However, the medication needs to go through the bloodstream. With an injection, back and leg pain sufferers can get medicine straight at the source. The injection happens in the epidural space. This is a gap between the vertebral wall and the dural sac. Epidurals aren’t only for leg pain. Some persons with back pain and other spinal conditions get injections.
A quick trip to the doctor
Lumbar steroid injections are a quick, outpatient procedure. The patient wears a hospital gown and lies facedown for the injection. The doctor will use fluoroscopy, a real-time form of x-ray. This helps the doctor guide the needle. From here, the doctor then administers the injection, which is a steroid and anesthetic. The entire process takes less than an hour.
Can injections really help?
Persons who get steroid injections see great results in as little as 48 hours. As the steroid starts working, patients will begin to feel relief. In some studies, more than 80% of patients are satisfied with the results of a steroid injection. The injection works for several months and can be taken up to 3 times a year. The injections help with leg pain but may also help with any back-related discomfort.
What if it fails?
No medical procedure is without risk. With injections, there is a possible lack of efficacy. If there is no leg pain relief, there could be a deeper issue at play. The patient should first keep a symptom diary to track the effectiveness of the shot. If the outlook is grim, revisit the doctor. A series of further tests may be required to find the root cause of the issue. There may be further treatment needed, including surgery.
Steroid injections can help
Leg pain that originates from the lumbar region can be especially painful. Chances are there were signs before the leg pain, such as lower back pain. Pay attention to any chronic pain and report the issue to a doctor. Epidural injections continue to show amazing effectiveness in relieving pain. These injections can be a medium to a long-term solution, especially if other non-surgical treatments fail. For more information about whether steroid injections are the right treatment, speak with a pain management specialist.