Your spine contains 23 intervertebral discs that separate the vertebrae that extend from the base of your head to your pelvis. Under normal circumstances, these discs provide critical cushioning and support, but when they begin to break down and bulge, they can become the source of significant pain.
To alleviate the pain caused by bulging discs, Dr. Anjum Bux and our team at Bux Pain Management offer several different solutions, including epidural steroid injections, which are extremely effective in restoring pain-free movement to your spine.
Here’s a look at how your discs can bulge and why epidural injections work so well at relieving the pain.
Understanding intervertebral disc degeneration
As we mentioned, the discs along your spine play key roles in helping to support and cushion your vertebrae, allowing smooth and pain-free movement in your back and neck. To do this, each of your discs contains a jelly-like interior and tough exterior made of cartilage.
Unfortunately, age and wear-and-tear can conspire together, causing these discs to flatten, like tires without air. Also called degenerative disc disease, this process typically affects the discs that you use most for movement, including those in your cervical spine (neck) and in your lumbar spine (low back).
As a result, your discs can bulge out of their intervertebral spaces and compromise sensitive nerve roots in the area, which is what leads to the pain that’s driving you to read this blog.
It’s important to note that bulging discs are degenerative, which means your symptoms are only likely to get worse, not better.
The role of epidural steroid injections
Your epidural space is the area between your vertebrae and the protective dura sac that surrounds your spinal nerves and spinal cord. With an epidural steroid injection, we deliver both a local anesthetic and a steroid into the area where we suspect your nerves are compromised.
Epidural steroid injections deliver a powerful one-two punch: First, the local anesthetic quickly goes to work to dull the pain signaling coming from your affected nerves. Second, the steroid addresses the inflammation that’s irritating your nerves.
It’s impossible to say how long your results may last after an epidural steroid injection, as some patients report weeks of pain relief, while others enjoy years of freedom from pain.
Whatever the time frame, it’s important that you use this reprieve from your pain to take important steps toward avoiding pain in the future. At the top of this list is physical therapy.
Through targeted strengthening exercises and stretching, physical therapy can help the soft tissues that support your spine to play larger roles, taking the pressure off your bulging and damaged discs.
To explore whether an epidural steroid injection may hold the key to your pain relief from a bulging disc, contact one of our locations in Lexington, Cynthiana, or Danville, Kentucky, to set up an appointment.