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What Is Lumbar Epidural Injection?

Your doctor may have suggested you have a lumbar epidural injection. This procedure can help relieve low back and leg pain by reducing inflammation (swelling and irritation). An injection also can help your doctor diagnose the source of your pain by numbing certain areas of your back. Where you are injected depends on the goal of the injection.

Man holding box, grimacing in pain with hand to his back A Way to Relieve Pain

A lumbar epidural injection won’t stop all low back and leg pain. But it can reduce pain and break the pain cycle. This cycle may begin when back pain makes it hard to move. Lack of movement can then slow down healing. By getting you back on your feet, the injection can help speed your recovery. Some people may feel more relief from an injection than others. And some people may need more than one injection to get relief.

A Tool for Diagnosis

An injection can help locate the source of pain. Also called a selective nerve block or a selective epidural, it numbs the roots of specific nerves. The effect lasts only briefly. But if you feel relief, it may indicate the source of the pain. If you feel no relief, it may mean that the pain’s source is at another level in your  spine. Or it may mean that something other than inflammation is causing the pain. Injection results also may be used to help plan back surgery, if needed.

Doctor showing woman an X-ray

 

Possible Risks and Complications of Lumbar Epidural Injection

  • Spinal headache

  • Bleeding (rare)

  • Infection (rare)

 

 

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