When neck pain becomes chronic, it usually means that something is persistently compressing and irritating a nerve (or multiple nerves) in the cervical spine. Dr. Skaribas has found the most direct solution to cervical radiculopathy—the one that provides the most immediate relief—is a cervical epidural steroid injection.*
Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections
There are any number of possible culprits for chronic neck pain. Repetitive motion from a particular sport or work activity (e.g., hunching over a computer) may generate pressure on the cervical nerves, especially as bodies age. There may even have been an impact injury that, in addition to inflammation, caused fluid retention or even a herniated or bulging disc. Whatever the root cause, the result is weakness, numbness and/or, worst of all, outright pain.
Nobody knows with absolute certainty why cervical epidural steroid injections are so effective. What is established medical fact is that steroids are highly anti-inflammatory. Therefore, once the inflammation causing cervical nerve irritation is reduced, it’s not particularly surprising that so goes the discomfort. In addition, targeted injections have a more powerful effect than NSAIDs and oral steroids, and don’t flood a patient’s entire system with medication.*
In the final analysis, trying to trace the cause is often futile (the damage is done) as is puzzling out the treatment. Dr. Skaribas’ priority is damage control, eliminating pain as quickly and efficiently as possible. Cervical epidural steroid injections are considered safe and they work. Epidural injections for pain have been in use since 1901 and those utilizing steroids since the early 1950s.*
An Outpatient Procedure
It’s generally up to the patient whether to have a local anesthetic at the injection site or to use an intravenous medication. In either case, a cervical epidural steroid injection is an outpatient procedure and patients generally do not experience any pain.*
The epidural space where the injections are given is located just outside the protective membrane of the spinal cord. Two injections are made for each procedure: one utilizes x-ray imaging to locate the epidural space accurately and the other contains the corticosteroid medication. By targeting the injection site carefully, only the inflamed area is treated; no more medication is used than necessary.*
Most patients experience almost immediate relief after the injection and most can go back to their daily routines right away.* For some patients, the pain does not completely abate. In those cases, Dr. Skaribas simply repeats the treatment to achieve optimum results.
Dr. Skaribas preparing a patient for a Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection.