Spinal Stenosis

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. In some people the narrowing can cause mechanical pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots, thus causing back pain, leg pain, and inability to walk for long distances.

Epidural injections are often used to relieve the pain from spinal stenosis, thus delaying or avoiding surgery, which is the definite treatment if other treatments fail to relive pain and increase your function.

What is an epidural injection?

An epidural injection is the injection of medicine between the backbones into the epidural space to reduce inflammation and swelling, which can then reduce the pain signals.

This procedure is used only in people with spinal stenosis (narrowing of the central spinal canal) or slippage disc (spondylolisthesis). This procedure should not be used in individuals with a nerve impingement.

It is important to know the epidural injections should not be done blindly, without fluoroscopic guidance. Studies have shown that done blindly, the epidural injection is missed in at least 25% of patients, even in the hands of experienced physicians. Done blindly, the injection could be more painful for you.

What will happen to me during the procedure?

After the doctor has administered an intravenous pain reliever, you will lie on your stomach. The skin over your back will be well cleaned. Next, the physician will numb a small area of skin, which stings for a few seconds.

Next, the physician will use fluoroscopic guidance to direct a needle into the epidural space. Then the physician will inject contrast dye to confirm that the medicine flows in the epidural space. Lastly, a combination of numbing medicine and time- release anti-inflammatory cortisone will be injected.

What will happen to me after the procedure?

You will rest in the recovery area for 30 minutes before going home. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored. You will be given instructions regarding your pain, activity, driving, etc.