What’s the Difference Between Epidurals for Back Pain and Epidurals During Childbirth?

May 11, 2020 | Arthritis, Treatments

There Are Two Types of Epidurals to Relieve Back Pain

At Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers, we often hear the question: “What’s the difference between an epidural steroid injection (ESI) and an epidural used during pregnancy?” And believe it or not, they’re much more similar than they are different.

Both shots involve injecting a medication and are aimed at relieving pain. The difference is one is a powerful anti-inflammatory, while the other is used to block pain signals to the brain during birth. Let’s discuss these similarities and differences further to better understand why doctors use them to relieve arthritis pain in patients with a pinched nerve.

What’s an Epidural Steroid Injection for Back Pain?

Sometimes, arthritis patients can experience pain in their back, legs, neck or even their arms. The source of this pain may actually be due to the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can pinch a nerve, resulting in pain throughout the body. To relieve this pain, doctors utilize Epidural Steroid Injections or ESI’s to reduce swelling and inflammation of the pinched nerve.

Like corticosteroid injections used to reduce inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis patients’ knees, these epidural injections contain a corticosteroid, a powerful anti-inflammatory — and it’s often combined with a local anesthetic. But while cortisone shots in knees only last for a few weeks to a couple of months, an ESI can last for many months, depending on the condition being treated.

It’s important to note these injections won’t heal your herniated disc or cure the arthritis affecting your spine. Nevertheless, it can reset the inflammatory cycle you feel because of your injury or condition, which can provide significant pain relief down the road.

To learn more about how epidural steroid injections work and their benefits, you can read another post: What Is an Epidural Steroid Injection?

What’s Epidural Anesthesia to Relieve Pain during Childbirth?

Epidural anesthesia — popularly known as an “epidural” — is a very common form of pain relief for women during labor and delivery. These injections contain a small amount of anesthesia that’s administered in the epidural space in the spine to stop the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain during childbirth.

How Are Epidurals Different from ESIs?

The main difference between these injections and ESIs is that epidurals for childbirth don’t contain corticosteroids since mothers don’t have a pinched or inflamed nerve. Additionally, epidurals for childbirth are usually injected into the upper lumbar area of the spine in order to block the nerves innervating the pelvis and legs. On the other hand, an ESI can be injected anywhere in the spine where there is a pinched nerve.

While ESI’s can last for months and months, epidurals during childbirth are designed to last for a few hours depending on the length of the labor and how much epidural anesthesia is administered throughout the delivery.

Are Epidural Steroid Injections Right for You?

If you suffer from spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine from arthritis), a pinched nerve, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease or any other spine-related injury that affects the nerves, an ESI can provide significant symptom relief. You can increase this relief through additional pain management tactics such as physical therapy, exercise and over-the-counter medications.

To learn more about whether an ESI is right for you and to determine the right treatment plan for your health needs, contact Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers. You can schedule a risk-free consultation today!

Recent Posts