What is an Epidural Steroid Injection?

An epidural steroid injection is a procedure used to treat back, neck, leg, and arm pain. Patients primarily feel pain and discomfort as a result of inflammation of the spinal nerve root. An injection of medication into the epidural space can help alleviate this pain.

Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure

Epidural space is the area that sits between the vertebra and the spinal sac. This fat-filled area is targeted with steroids, often in combination with anesthetic depending on your doctor. 

To prepare for an epidural steroid injection, the patient will begin lying down. The injection site is cleansed and then numbed with local anesthetic. The patient must remain awake, however, a low dose of sedative may be administered as a calming agent if needed.

With x-ray guidance, the physician will direct a needle into the epidural space. A contrast dye will be injected to ensure placement is correct. The targeted area will then be injected with the steroid mixture.

What is the benefit of epidural injections?

The injection of steroid and anesthetic will work in combination to minimize inflammation of, and to decrease pain in, the spinal nerve. As a result, patients will experience lesser to no pain in their problem area (back, neck, etc.). The effects of epidural injections can last anywhere from weeks to years. Patients who attend physical therapy and actively work to improve the state of their body may achieve longer lasting results.

Procedure Details and Recovery Time

The average procedure takes 30 minutes. This will vary according to the number of injections needed and the in-office recovery period mandated by the physician. Once cleared, the patient will be able to leave and continue their day as normal. It is recommenced that no strenuous activity be done for at least one days time.

Patients may experience side effects like soreness at injection site, trouble sleeping, hot flashes, and water retention. Serious reactions are rare, but may include infection, nerve damage, or allergic reaction.

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