08 Sep What Type of Doctor Gives Epidural Injections?
Epidural injections involve injecting steroids into the epidural area of the spine. Sometimes, the injection also includes a local anesthetic or saline solution. These additions can help flush inflammatory mediators in the area.
While most people are familiar with the concept of epidurals, you may not know what type of doctor gives epidural injections.
The Type of Doctor
There are actually multiple types of doctors that can give an epidural injection. Spine surgeons commonly give these injections. So do other types of orthopedic surgeons, as well as neurologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, and physiatrists (PM&R). With around 30,141 orthopedic surgeons in the U.S., there are many options to perform this procedure.
What Does an Epidural Injection Do?
As mentioned, the epidural injection typically contains cortisone or a steroid. These anti-inflammatory agents reduce inflammation to reduce pain.
Lidocaine or bupivacaine is sometimes included in the injection, providing temporary pain relief. In addition to local pain relief, it also flushes the area. In other words, it dilutes the immunological or chemical agents responsible for inflammation. Saline may also be included. It serves as a flushing agent and dilutes the local anesthetic.
What Happens During an Epidural Injection?
In addition to knowing who gives an epidural, you likely want to know what to expect from the procedure. You will typically start by putting on a hospital gown since this makes it easier to reach the injection site.
You lie down on an X-ray table. You may have a small pillow underneath your stomach or you may lie flat. Alternatively, you can lay on your side slightly curled up, or sit up.
Your doctor cleans and numbs the skin along your lower back. The doctor guides a needle with a live X-pain ray (fluoroscopy). They insert the needle into your skin and point it toward the epidural space. According to Spine-Health, not using fluoroscopy to guide the needle leads to missing the correct injection site in more than 30 percent of cases.
Once your doctor positions the needle, they inject contrast to visually confirm its location. They then inject the steroid solution. This is done slowly, but you will likely notice pressure.
Afterward, you will be monitored for about 15 to 20 minutes and be sent home.
Before the procedure, you may need to stop taking medicines. You may also need to stop eating or drinking a few hours before the procedure. Your doctor will likely ask you to go to the bathroom before receiving the injection.
You can’t drive after the injection, as you may be numb or have delayed reflexes.
Who Conducts the Follow-Up Appointment?
While any of the previously mentioned doctors can administer the epidural, not all are likely to interact with you afterward. Immediately after the injection, you will likely have a quick discussion with the doctor who gave it to you. This will only be to check for negative effects.
Your follow-up appointment will likely be with whichever doctor suggested the epidural injection. This is a spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon. During this follow-up, your doctor may do bloodwork or conduct other tests. They will ask you about improvements and side effects.
At New York Spine Specialist, we treat patients for back and neck pain after an injury or an accident. If you are experience pain or discomfort, call us to make an appointment at 516-355-0111. Our doctors accept no-fault, workers’ compensation and other insurance plans. We are here to help and offer the right treatment for your condition.