Questions About Epidural Steroid Injections?

All of the recent news about epidural steroid injections has significantly increased awareness, confusion and questions about this commonly used pain management procedure. We want to provide you with important information as you continue to hear media messages that over simplify a complex issue and broadly reference a procedure that includes several types. Also, as one of Indianapolis’ largest pain management practices that is in good standing with the American Medical Association, we want you to know that epidural steroid injections are a proven and effective treatment for many medical conditions.

What are Epidural Steroid Injections?

Epidural steroid injections are an outpatient pain management procedure used to reduce inflammation and pain associated with nerve root compression most commonly caused by herniated discs, spinal stenosis and bone spurs. When the nerve is compressed, it becomes inflamed and causes pain, numbness, tingling or weakness along the course of the nerve. This condition is called radiculopathy. An epidural steroid injection goes into the epidural space (located above the outer layer surrounding the spinal cord and nerve roots), directly over the compressed nerve root.

Types of Epidural Steroid Injections

There are several different types of epidural steroid injections. Oftentimes, they are described by the injection site: neck, middle back or lower back. For instance, cervical epidural injections refer to injections in the neck, thoracic epidural injections refer to injections in the middle back and lumbar epidural injections refer to injections in the lower back.

Epidural steroid injections can also be described by the path of the needle.  Interlaminar epidural steroid injections are the most common. This refers to injections placed between two adjacent lamina (portions of the bones on the back of the spine).  Another type of injection is a transforaminal steroid injection where the needle passes along the course of the nerve and enters the spine from a more diagonal direction.

Like you, we’ve been closely monitoring reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and watching the news coverage about contaminated epidural steroid injections from an isolated supplier in Framingham, Massachusetts. To date, there have been no reported incidents in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. We will continue to monitor the situation and update our blog with any new information.

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