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When a Cervical Epidural Is the Best Choice for Your Neck or Back Pain

Living with chronic neck and back pain isn’t fun. It limits your mobility and functionality and keeps you from living an active life. 

Chances are good that you’ve already tried more conservative measures, like physical therapy and daily pain medication. But you’re still not receiving the kind of results that make an impact.

Instead of taking still more pills or resigning yourself to a life of pain, the cervical epidural can help. This injection can provide lasting relief. In this blog, Dr. Steven Grossinger explains more about what the cervical injection is and how it can help your neck and back pain.

What to do about chronic neck pain

Chronic neck pain is no small problem: It affects up to 30% of Americans. Furthermore, it’s not localized to your neck. Many people with neck pain also have what we call “referred pain,” which spreads from your neck to other parts of your body, including your arms, hands, and shoulders.

Most people start with a conservative approach to treatment. This may include getting physical therapy, taking over-the-counter pain medication, and changing some of your daily habits, such as looking down at your phone screen. 

Neck pain can even cause frequent headaches. When the conservative approach fails to work, we consider other ideas, such as the cervical epidural.

Why back pain is often hard to treat

More people suffer from back pain than neck pain: Up to 50% of working Americans deal with regular back pain. This may be caused by anything from sedentary desk jobs to a car accident. Like neck pain, it can cause referred pain in other parts of the body, such as the hips and knees. 

Back pain is often challenging to treat because many of the root causes are things you can’t easily change, such as a desk job that requires a lot of sitting. Back pain can become chronic, greatly affecting your everyday life and your mobility. Being active may be too painful to bear.

What is a cervical epidural?

A cervical epidural is an injection of anti-inflammatory medication directly into your spine, providing nearly instant pain relief. The space around your spinal cord is called the dura, which is where the medication is directed. 

This helps to calm down any nerves that are causing pain. It can be provided at the base of your spine in your lower back or at the other end near your neck.

A cervical epidural is perfectly safe. Millions of women each year use an epidural during childbirth for pain relief (although with different drugs). Because it doesn’t provide permanent relief, you likely need more than one cervical epidural.

The good news, however, is that a cervical epidural has a much higher effectiveness level than physical therapy or pills alone.

What to expect from the procedure

You can eat a small meal a few hours before the procedure. The procedure itself only takes about a half-hour and is performed right in our office. 

You’re given a local anesthetic before Dr. Grossinger inserts the needle. He uses fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray, to guide the needle into the correct spot in your spine. 

Most people don’t feel any pain from the procedure, although you may feel a bit of pressure. This is normal. After the procedure, we expect that you can drive yourself home,  though you may choose to have someone drive you. 

You should rest for the remainder of the day after getting the injection. But you can resume your normal activities, including working, the next day.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a cervical epidural can help your neck and back pain, Dr. Steven Grossinger would be happy to talk to you. Call one of his offices in Wilmington, Delaware, or in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area, or request an appointment online.

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