Epidural Adhesiolysis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • Epidural adhesiolysis is a procedure to treat chronic (long-term) back and leg pain. This pain may be caused by fibrosis (scar tissue) pressing on the nerve roots in the epidural space. The epidural space lies outside the dura mater, which is the strong covering of the brain and spinal cord. Fibrosis usually forms after having back or spinal surgery. Epidural adhesiolysis is done to lyse (dissolve) the scar tissues that press on the nerves. This procedure uses medicines that reach the area to decrease inflammation (swelling) and relieve pain. Epidural adhesiolysis may also be done to treat pain caused by infection or cancer (tumors).
    Picture of a normal spine


  • During epidural adhesiolysis, fluoroscopy (x-ray with dye) is used to see the nerves and scar tissue. Caregivers will insert a catheter (special tube) and tools in the epidural space and move them to the affected area. Your caregiver may use an endoscope to have a clear view of the spinal area. An endoscope is a metal tube with a light and tiny video camera on the end. When the catheter is in place, a special mixture of anesthetic (numbing) and steroid medicines is injected to the epidural space. After having epidural adhesiolysis, back and leg pain may be relieved, and your quality of life improved.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Medicines:

  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.

  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.

    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Activity:

  • Rest: You may feel like resting more. As pain decreases, you may start doing your usual activities. Rest when you feel it is needed. This will help you to recover and heal faster.

  • Sports and exercise: Talk to your caregiver before you start exercising. Together you can plan an exercise program that best suits you. Start with a low-impact sport, such as walking or swimming, and do more as you get stronger.

  • Walking: You may need to use a cane, walker or crutches. This may help you get around and decrease your chances of falling or getting hurt. It is important to use your cane, walker, or crutches correctly. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to choose and use them correctly.

Physical therapy:

You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.

Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have a severe (bad) low back pain at night or even when resting.

  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.

  • You have weakness in one or both legs.

  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, care, or medicine.

SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

  • You are a male and cannot get an erection.

  • You have a stiff neck or have trouble thinking clearly.

  • You have trouble holding back your urine or bowel movements.

  • You have blood, pus, or a foul-smelling odor coming from your procedure area.

  • Your legs, feet, or other parts below the waist feel numb, tingly, or weak.

  • Your symptoms become worse or come back.

Copyright © 2012. Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Epidural Adhesiolysis (Aftercare Instructions)

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