Goodbye to Back Pain! Epidural Steroid Injections Keep Chicago Woman Traveling the World

The statistics are sobering: eight out of 10 Americans will suffer serious back pain at some point in their lives. Depending on its severity and duration, it may lead to time off work, lost sleep and an inability to take care of daily activities.

But there’s a silver lining too. More than 95% of back pain sufferers will be able to avoid back surgery through more conservative measures like physical therapy, pain medication and steroid injections.

Eleanor Morrow of Chicago is one of them. The 71-year-old retired anesthesia technician, who suffers from two herniated discs, made an appointment to see board-certified physiatrist George Charuk, D.O., several years ago when back pain nearly sidelined her.

“The pain would start in my back and go down my left leg,” she explains. “I felt pain when I was walking, bending over or just picking things up.”

And, bicycling — one of her favorite activities — was out of the question. On a scale of one to 10, Eleanor says most days her pain was a “9.”

To her relief, Dr. Charuk offered a non-surgical outpatient option to alleviate the pain: epidural steroid injections.

“Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are a minimally invasive treatment that delivers potent medication directly, or very near, the source of pain generation,” Dr. Charuk said.

During an ESI procedure, a solution containing the steroid cortisone is used in conjunction with a local anesthetic such as lidocaine. Since inflammation is a common component of many low back conditions, the use of the anti-inflammatory steroid reduces swelling and the accompanying pain. With the aid of X-ray guidance, the drugs are delivered into the epidural space of the spine — the area between the protective covering of the spinal cord and the bony vertebrae.

“The goal is to reduce pain so that patients can resume normal activities,” he added.

Following her first injection, that’s precisely what Eleanor did!

“My first injection lasted two years,” she said. “I had absolutely no pain at all!”

She has had three epidural injections in the last five years, and all have provided the relief she needs to enjoy biking, walking — and traveling the world.

“That’s why I need to keep my back in shape,” she adds. “I do a lot of sightseeing and stair climbing.”

In fact, she successfully climbed more than 100 stairs to walk on the Great Wall of China. Next up, a tour of Thailand!

“Dr. Charuk has been a lifesaver for me,” she adds. “If you’re suffering from lower back pain, I would highly recommend him.”

The best candidates for epidural steroid injections are those who suffer from pain in the lower back caused by spinal stenosis, herniated discs, bone spurs, cervical and lumbar radiculopathy, joint cysts and abnormal alignment of the vertebrae.

For more information, call Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute at 708.915.PAIN (7246).

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