With so many different types of spinal injections available for back pain I decided to do a bit of research on epidurals for back pain and what I had for my cervical pain back in March this year.
I was told at the time that the way I had this injection (which was through the front of my neck ) was highly dangerous and that not many pain consultants ( including mine) would perform this procedure. All the way through the procedure the consultant ( another one I had been referred to who specialised in this type of injection )kept saying I must not move one fraction of an inch but instead to shout stop whenever I started to feel it too uncomfortable.
Right from when start when the injection went in I instinctively moved slightly because of the discomfort and the consultant was quite strong in his words to remind me to say stop or he may have to stop the whole procedure.
Slowly but surely after numerous stops I was given a fair dose of the steroid to help with my pain. I then had strict instructions on how I might feel afterwards and if I felt differently to phone directly to speak to him.
I can honestly say it wasn’t the most pleasant or procedures but I’m always of the opinion of no pain no gain with these type as of procedures. Fortunately I had no after affects and after about three weeks ( I was told it could take that long) the pain relief kicked in and my neck and arm pain disappeared for the first time in years.
When I asked the consultant how many of this particular type of injection I could have in a year he said he would not recommend ever having another as it is so dangerous.
The pain relief lasted four amazing months !
Spine Health wrote that while the effects of an epidural steroid injection tend to be temporary (lasting from a week to up to a year) an epidural steroid injection can deliver substantial benefits for many patients experiencing low back pain.
So, I could see from this information that it seems to be ok for lumber pain but there is no mention of it for cervical pain.
Patients that demand a ‘quick fix’ for their discomfort are being given the treatment, priced at £540 per procedure, despite doctors being told to recommend back-pain sufferers be more active or try psychological therapy.
According to an analysis of NHS data by The Times, 70,608 steroid injections into patients’ facet joints, which make spines flexible, occurred last year, compared to 62,570 five years ago.
Guidelines released in both 2009 and 2016 advise against the procedure.
Figures also show 8,044 operations that fuse spinal bones together were carried out last year, up from 7,224 between 2012 and 2013.
Spinal Healthcare point out that Epidural steroid injections are actually very safe, since they are simply an injection that contains both local anaesthetic and steroids. In effect these reduce the inflammation that is causing pain in the nerves and the disc in the spin and the local anaesthetic numbs the area, bringing short term numbness to the region. By the time the local anaesthetic wears off the steroid will be working to reduce inflammation.
However there are some risks with the procedure, but these need to be looked at in context. Almost every human activity carries some risk with it. For example, crossing the road, lifting heavy objects, even opening a tin of beans all carry risks. Yet we do them every day, simply because they are necessary to human function.
Reading through lots more posts on epidurals I have come to the conclusion that like anything in life one size does not fit all of us and for some this treatment gives great relief and for others none whatsoever. There is definitely a problem with the cost of this type of injection as you require x ray staff and others to proceed with it. My facet joint injections which were also done in X-ray were cut a couple of years ago due to funding.
I can quite understand the cuts as the NHS is under so much pressure but I think it would make sense to have a team of people who simply follow up your pain relief after the injection to monitor if it was worth doing or not. That way the ones who benefit could continue having them and and the ones that don’t could try something else.
As far as the safety of this type of injection, I guess any injection into your spine carries risks but that could apply to any type of procedure. However, having it for cervical pain is something I could not find so it makes me think that maybe the one I had was a one off that worked for a while but now it’s back to square one again.