Epidural injections are administered to patients to relieve pain symptoms radiating in the back or the legs. The steroid relieves nerve inflammation to reduce pain. Epidural injections are usually not advised as the only form of rehabilitation for back and leg pain sufferers. Your doctor is likely to recommend exercises for you to perform following the epidural injections and may even suggest meeting with a physical therapist.
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The day of the injection, you should not participate in any form of vigorous exercise. Your doctor may advise rest, but you need to walk as well periodically following the injection. Walking will be the initial exercise you participate in after the injections. Every half an hour of sitting, get up and walk at a moderate pace for at least five minutes.
To begin exercising as part of your rehabilitation program for back pain, start with simple exercises that do not put strain on the back. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends ankle pumps and wall squats to help back-pain sufferers. For ankle pumps, lie flat on your back with your legs stretched in front of you. Press the ankles to the floor and then towards you. Repeat the move 10 to 12 times. For a wall squat, press your back against your wall while placing your feet about 12 inches away from the wall. Contract the abs and bend the knees to enter into a squat. Hold the pose for five seconds and straighten the knees to stand. Perform eight to 12 reps.
Intermediate to Advanced Exercises
Floor stretches can be done as part of an intermediate or advanced exercise program. Stretch the knee and hamstring by lying flat on your back with your legs in front of you. For a knee stretch, bring the knee to your chest while grasping the thigh. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds or more before switching legs. A hamstring stretch expands on the knee stretch. Once the knee is to your chest, straighten out the leg until you feel the stretch in the back of the thigh. Also, hold for a minimum of 20 seconds.
Potential side effects can occur with epidural injections. If you find it difficult to exercise due to numbness and muscle weakness, contact your doctor. Any numbness you may feel after the injection should subside after a maximum of eight hours. Additional risks of epidural injections include paralysis, bleeding, infection and allergic reaction.