Relieving Spinal Pain – an Alternative to Medication and Surgery

Health Education

Orthopaedics & Traumatology



Studies revealed that there is 80-90% chance of a person suffering from lower back pain at some point during their lives, and for many, ordinary painkillers offer no relief. For these patients, surgery may be an option. But what about those in-between, not severe enough for surgery but unaided by medication? The Epidural Spinal injection offers a low-risk but effective option for these patients.


The most common causes of chronic lower back pain include sciatica, spinal disc herniation, spinal degeneration and lumbar nerve pain. These conditions severely impact the patient’s ability to live and work. Doctors usually begin treatment by prescribing painkillers and arranging physiotherapy, but in some cases they may suggest surgery.


However, these treatments are not helpful for all chronic pain patients. As with painkillers, some patients, especially those with chronic pain, might not respond well to physiotherapy, jeopardising their treatment outcome. If the conditions of patients are not severe enough, for instance, or due to associated surgical risks, medical co-morbidity, their own preference, etc., surgery may not be suitable for them. As a result, these patients may think that there is no option for them except to suffer through it.


But there is another option. Epidural Spinal Injection has recently gained greater visibility and popularity as an alternative to drugs and surgery. The treatment can relieve up to 70-80% of a patient’s pain, and usually lasts up to three months. It is a minimally invasive procedure that delivers low-dose steroids into the epidural space of the spine (between the nerve and bone structure), near the compressed nerve, allowing doctors to alleviate pain, swelling and inflammation quickly at the source.


The doctor will perform an MRI to pinpoint the root source and cause of the pain and the optimal needle placement, before injecting the medication through the needle guided in real-time by X-ray. The whole process will be conducted in a sterile environment, with the patient sedated and under topical anesthesia or monitored by an anesthetist. Patients can usually be discharged after a few hours of monitoring. With such a significant reduction in pain, doctors can then design appropriate physiotherapy plans for the patient to aid in their future healing and pain management.

Epidural Spinal Injection is a low-risk but highly effective procedure. Although it may have some side effects like neuralgia (nerve pain), tingling and numbness, dizziness, headache, and dural tear or puncture, the chance of suffering these are extremely low, at just 2-3%. Patients facing spinal pain should not hesitate to ask their doctor for further assessment and information about this procedure.