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Injection treatment option to relieve back pain

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Patients who suffer from lumbar disc herniations may choose a proactive option for relieving the pain, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

A herniated disc occurs in the spine when there is a tear in the outer ring of a disc and the soft, central portion bulges out. When this occurs in the lumbar region of the spine, epidural steroid injections may be a treatment option.

Reduce inflammation

"Many disc herniations tend to resolve on their own over two to three months. However, epidural steroid injections can help reduce the pain and inflammation in the meantime," said Dr Benoy Benny, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and director of the spine, sports and pain program at BCM.

The outpatient procedure involves injecting steroids into the epidural space, or the outermost part, of the spinal canal. Mild sedation is required, and there are usually no restrictions for the patient the next day, said Benny.

Effects vary

The effects of the treatment vary widely. Some patients do well with just one injection while others require additional injections. However, Benny warns that the treatment should not be repeated more than three times in a year, because it may suppress the actions of the adrenal glands. Symptoms of this include weakness, fatigue, weight loss and stomach problems.

"There are several causes of back pain, and this procedure cannot be used for all types, but it is an option for lumbar disc herniations," said Benny.

Benny advises getting the procedure done by a doctor who is fellowship-trained in interventional spine or pain.

(Source: Baylor College of Medicine: September 2009)

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Posted On: 23 September, 2009
Modified On: 16 January, 2014


Created by: myVMC