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What Is an Interlaminar Epidural Injection?

A lumbar epidural steroid injection is most frequently used in patients with sciatic nerve pain.
An interlaminar epidural injection might be used to treat lower back pain.
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  • Written By: Donn Saylor
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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An interlaminar epidural injection is a medical treatment that transports steroids to the roots of the spinal nerves. These types of epidurals come in three different varieties: a cervical epidural injection, a lumbar epidural injection, and a thoracic epidural lumbar injection. The steroids administered into the spinal nerve roots help combat the inflammation and pain associated with back, leg, arm, and shoulder issues.

Injured discs or bone spurs cause inflammation of the spinal nerves. This often results in a high level of pain and discomfort, and the need for a steroid epidural injection becomes vital to starting the healing process. In an interlaminar epidural injection, the steroids target the nerve roots and may also instigate a process of detoxification, in which inflammatory proteins in the affected area are flushed out of the body. The injection also significantly lessens inflammation and pain, thereby supporting the commencement of the body's natural healing processes.

The interlaminar epidural injection works by entering into the area around the dura membrane, which envelops the spinal nerves. All nerves that journey from the spine into the arms, legs, and chest pass through this area. During injection, the needle is inserted directly into the membrane, delivering steroids to the small space.

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In the interlaminar epidural injection process, an IV first conveys an anesthetic so the body can be relaxed for the injection. The patient is placed on an x-ray table on his or her stomach and the skin around the injection area is sterilized. At this point, another anesthetic is administered to the injection area to further relaxation and deaden the nerve endings that can make the process painful. An x-ray called a fluoroscopy allows the doctor to then guide the needle to precisely the right point in the spine. Next, two injections are given: one is a special dye that ensures the steroids target the correct areas, and the other is the steroids themselves, which are combined with another anesthetic to maintain the patient's comfort.

An interlaminar epidural injection is commonly given for inflammation in one of three areas of the spine. In a cervical epidural injection, the steroids alleviate neck, shoulder, and arm pain. A lumbar epidural injection affects lower back, hip, and buttock pain, as well as discomfort in the legs. With a thoracic epidural, the medicine attacks inflammation in the upper back, ribs, and, in some instances, the abdomen. About 50% of patients report noticeably less pain in the affected areas after receiving an interlaminar epidural injection.

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