A caudal steroid injection can be effective in treating lower back and leg pain caused by herniated discs, sciatica, bone spurs, or other back problems. It is also one of the most challenging conditions to treat because the source of the pain can be difficult to locate.
Back pain is among the most frequently reported health problems in the world. It is estimated that nearly 80% of adults will suffer some form of lower back pain at some point in their lives. When low back pain occurs, a caudal epidural steroid injection may help.
Caudal steroid injections are often used to treat sciatica, spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis), facet joint pain, spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and other back problems. The steroid medication is injected into the lowest portion of the epidural space (the membrane containing spinal fluid and the thickest ligament between your vertebrae).
The caudal space is located near the tailbone. In the caudal area, nerves branch out to provide sensation and motor activity to the legs and lower back. A caudal steroid injection is the placement of anti-inflammatory medicine (cortisone) into the tailbone (caudal) section of the lower back. The injection reduces nerve inflammation and hopefully will reduce lower back pain and chronic leg pain.
When the end of a nerve closest to the spinal cord (the “root”) becomes irritated and inflamed in the lower (lumbar) spine, it can cause back or leg pain. The nerve irritation or inflammation can be the result of a damaged disc or other spine problem.
The medicine in the injection is a combination of a steroid and a local anesthetic to reduce nerve inflammation. It is injected into the lowest portion of the epidural space (the area surrounding the nerve roots of the spinal cord) in the caudal space. By stopping or limiting nerve inflammation, pain is reduced and the body is better able to heal.
The treatment reduces pain and improves symptoms in most people within 3 to 7 days. The injection may offer permanent relief or provide a period of pain relief to allow other treatments like physical therapy to be more effective.
Your doctor may order up to three epidural injections spaced approximately 2 to 4 weeks apart.
Conditions Treated with Caudal Steroid Injections
A caudal steroid injection is commonly used to treat patients with various low-back or lower-extremity pain syndromes (or both).
A caudal steroid injection can help reduce lower back and leg pain caused by bone spurs or other back problems. Some of the reasons spinal nerves become inflamed include:
Sciatica (lumbar radiculopathy). Pressure on the sciatic nerve causes a radiating pain into the lower back and legs.
Herniated disc. The abnormal rupture of the central portion of a disc that allows the nucleus to protrude and press on a surrounding nerve.
Bulging disc. A condition in which the disc protrudes (bulges) placing pressure on a surrounding nerve root.
Spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis). The most common cause of a vertebra slipping out of place and pinching spinal nerves.
Who Can Benefit from Caudal Steroid Injections?
Caudal steroid injections provide pain relief without a surgical procedure. The treatment may be right for people with back pain that has lasted longer than four weeks, is severe, or has not improved with other treatments such as physical therapy. Early intervention can decrease the chances of the pain worsening and becoming chronic.
The procedure can also help identify the precise cause of pain for your doctor to make a diagnosis. To do this, a local anesthetic is injected into the area of the nerve root. The doctor then asks the patient to describe any change in pain symptoms. A decrease in pain indicates that the nerve causing the symptoms has been located and treated.
In addition to allowing the patient to resume normal daily activities, the most important success achieved with caudal steroid injections is the rapid relief of pain symptoms. The pain relief makes it easier for the patient to attend physical therapy sessions to correct the underlying issue.
Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and treats patients with chronic pain with numerous therapies, including caudal steroid injections. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle, while minimizing the need for opiates.