Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

My mother's doctor wants to inject her back with medication with an epidural injection to help relieve her back pain. I'm really worried about the potential problems. What can go wrong?

Answer:

If your mother is living with chronic back pain and has received other types of treatments that haven't helped, it's not unusual for her doctor to suggest this type of injections. For some people and for certain types of back pain, they can be very effective.

Like all medical procedures, epidural injections do have some risks. They include:

- infection at the site of the injection (rare)

- headache from a dural puncture (a puncture in the lining of the spinal canal)

- bleeding

- nerve damage (rare)

Your mother should discuss this with her doctor and weight the benefits and risks before undergoing treatment.

Fred Rincon, MD, et al. Chronic myelopathy due to a giant spinal arachnoid cyst: a complication of the intrathecal injection of phenol. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. April 2008. Vol. 8. Pp. 390-393.

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