Preparing For A Caudal Epidural With Steroids As A Treatment For Sciatica

Sciatica is a painful condition that causes pain in the very bottom part of the spine, which usually then travels down to the legs. It is usually caused because the intervertebral discs within the spine has degenerated with time( a direct result of the ageing process) or it could be because the discs have suffered damage and the sciatic nerve is being compressed or squeezed. When the sciatic nerve is suffering compression or is affected, then pain is felt and sciatica is the diagnosis. Sciatica is not life threatening, but it is painful and it also causes problems in terms of people having difficulty sleeping. The pain seems to worsen when you lie still and the only way to try and elicit comfort is to keep tossing and turning, which interferes with sleep and the sleeping patterns of your partner/spouse.


Usually sciatica is treated by rest, physiotherapy, massage and painkillers etc, but it is a tricky condition to treat in the sense that sometimes it refuses to respond to traditional methods of treatment in which case a caudal epidural with steroids using an X-ray for guidance, may be prescribed.


This is not the first option for treatment, simply because the pain will usually respond to conventional methods and as such the epidural is not usually required. So if you are having an epidural, do not worry that it is a ‘last ditch’ attempt at treatment and as such is risky, it is a really safe procedure that simply uses steroids to reduce the inflammation that is being felt within the disc. The steroids used are only in a low dosage.


Why Is A Dye Used?


A dye is used within a caudal epidural that is known as an epidurogram. This is nothing to fear, but simply is a dye that will highlight any scarring that may be present and helps your pain consultant to direct the steroids into the scarring so that the pain is reduced. This is a standard means of ensuring that the steroids/local anaesthetic will target the exact spot which is causing the pain and it does not mean that there is a suspicion that there is any other condition present. It is a means of shining a light on any area that needs specific treatment.


Preparing For A Caudal Epidural


Generally there is little that you need to do to prepare for the procedure. Usually you will be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours beforehand, simply to ensure that you do not experience nausea afterwards. You should also arrange for someone to drive you home afterwards because you will not be able to drive. If you are taking medication including painkillers and medication for other conditions then you will be given specific advice about which you should continue with and which you may have to stop for a few days. This is simply to ensure that if you are taking medication to keep your blood thin and stop clots forming, that you will not be taking these on the day of the epidural.


The most important thing that you can do when preparing for a caudal epidural to help alleviate the pain of sciatica is simply to rest and look forward to enjoying ife without the pain of sciatica!

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