If you are experiencing chronic pain and discomfort in the upper or middle areas of your back, known as the thoracic region, a thoracic epidural steroid injection may provide temporary relief. This non-surgical treatment option, while short-term, may last long enough to allow an injury to this part of your spine to heal or make it possible for your doctor to isolate the source of your discomfort. For patients who would benefit from a physical rehabilitation program, this procedure has proven most effective in controlling the pain to make it possible.
A thoracic epidural steroid injection delivers steroidal medication into an epidural space within the upper region of your spine that is causing discomfort. The epidural space—the area surrounding the protective dural sac of your nerves and spinal fluid—will receive the infusion of medication.
Before administering this treatment, your doctor will use an X-ray or other imaging procedure to determine the correct position to insert the needle. Once that’s in place, a contrast dye might be necessary to better visualize where the steroid should go. When performing the injection, it will be done slowly and will likely contain additional drugs like anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. A feeling of slightly uncomfortable pressure is not unusual.
Once you have undergone the procedure, you will remain at the healthcare facility for a brief time to ensure you don’t have any abnormal side effects. Typically, this observation period is only about an hour, and you can then return home and rest for the day. Typically, you can return to normal activities the following day unless instructed otherwise.
You will also need to have a follow-up visit with your physician, including possibly needing additional imaging to assess the effect of the injection on the targeted thoracic nerves. At this visit, your doctor may also recommend further treatment options for your condition, like physical therapy, which can address the source of your ongoing back pain. It’s also possible that you may receive further injections throughout the year if the pain relief proves successful.
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After your initial injection, you may not feel immediate improvement. It’s possible you may even feel slightly worse at first. This is not unusual; it takes time for the medications to take effect, sometimes up to a week or so, and then lasts a few months. Ideally, your reduced pain will allow your back to slowly heal on its own or with the assistance of rehabilitation therapies.
Some of the most common benefits that patients experience after receiving a thoracic epidural steroid injection include:
If you are experiencing severe upper back pain, your physician may agree that this type of injection could benefit your condition.
While the length of pain relief varies between patients, many patients who receive this treatment benefit from a reduction in severe back pain. This is because the direct administration of steroid medication to an aggravated thoracic spinal nerve is effective. Precisely injecting medicine into the epidural space maximizes the effects of the steroid and allows your spine and surrounding muscle and tissue to recover.
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Your doctor may recommend more traditional treatment options like physical therapy and oral medications before recommending a thoracic epidural steroid injection for your upper back pain. When these conservative treatments fail to alleviate your chronic discomfort, a non-surgical option like a steroid may be your best chance at relief. Typically, for this to be recommended, you must have been coping with a moderate amount of pain for several months or have suffered a severe injury.
A thoracic epidural injection may provide pain relief for several different types of back problems, like:
This procedure can sometimes help your healthcare providers to locate the source of your thoracic pain. If you experience near-instant relief after the injection, this may confirm their diagnosis. Some patients also rely on these injections to postpone invasive spine surgeries and allow them an opportunity to pursue a different care program that their pain had previously prevented.
Take advantage of state-of-the-art thoracic spinal care when treating your chronic back pain condition. Doctors trust thoracic epidural steroid injections as a reliable option to assist their patients in gaining control of their pain and move forward with recovery plans that may include physical therapy.
NJ Spine & Orthopedic has board-certified surgeons and medical experts trained in state-of-the-art equipment and treatment techniques to achieve quality care, faster recovery times, and pain-free living for all our patients. If you have questions about this procedure and wonder if it may be an option for your spinal condition, contact our office today online or call (866) 272-9271. You can also use our free Treatment Finder tool. We are here to help you get your life back and get you on the road to healing quickly and safely.
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