Epidural for Back Pain

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Back Pain Treatment


Epidural for Back Pain. I have such mixed feelings on the epidural for back pain, full stop!!!

I have seen numerous people who are about to go, or who have just been, fo epidural treatments for their back pain. Ultimately, they frequently relieve you of your back pain in the short term, but overall I generally see a re-occurrence of back pain following the epidural treatment.

What is an epidural?

An epidural refers to the technique where anaesthesia is injected into a part of your spine known as the epidural space. An epidural is often used during childbirth to block the transmission of pain signals to the brain. It is also used in treatment to attempt to alleviate people from back and neck pain.

epidural for back pain However, it should be noted that there are potential complications to epidural treatments - these should be also listed by your attending doctor. The most common ones I see are: 1.Failure to have a result - you get zero relief for your back pain symptoms.

2.The epidural may puncture the epidural space - this can result in medium to long-term headaches.

3.The epidural may be injected into a vein - the result being toxicity.

4.More extreme effects have been reported but I have not encountered them myself.

The reason why I see so much re-occurrence of back pain following epidurals is simple in my opinion - they do what they are good at, they mask your pain. When your pain is masked, or camouflaged, then you are more likely to move or take part in activities that may be placing stress and strain on your injured back. These movements, repeated over time, may result in further damage to your back. Once the anaesthesia has worn off the problem you have in your back may become more painful and incapacitating.

When are epidurals required?

Epidurals in my opinion are required when all else has failed in the treatment of your back pain. Then, and only then, is it worth the treatment. If you have had long term back pain and it is interfering in the quality of your life, if all conservative treatments have failed you, then seek an opinion with regard to having an epidural injection. The results can be very good.

My advice is to exhaust all conservative mechanical treatments prior to going down the epidural route. A good doctor and physiotherapist will advise you well - and do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion or two!!


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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