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Epidural Injection for Sciatica and Other Spine Ailments

Epidural steroid injections deliver medication directly (or very near) the source of pain generation.

Many spinal conditions, including a lumbar herniated disc, can cause inflammation or pressure on the nerve roots leading out of the spine, resulting in pain, tingling, or numbness along those nerves. A lumbar epidural steroid injection may be used to reduce the inflammation around the spinal nerves.

Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are a common treatment option for many forms of low back pain and leg pain. They have been used for low back problems since 1952 and are still an integral part of the non-surgical management of sciatica and low back pain. The goal of the injection is pain relief; at times the injection alone is sufficient to provide relief, but commonly an epidural steroid injection is used in combination with a comprehensive rehabilitation program to provide additional benefit.

Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis in and of itself—it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Common lower back problems that can cause sciatica symptoms include a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis.

Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely in both legs)
  • Pain that is worse when sitting
  • Leg pain that is often described as burning, tingling, or searing (versus a dull ache)
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg, foot, and/or toes
  • A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or walk
  • Pain that radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes (it rarely occurs only in the foot)