What is a transforaminal injection?

A transforaminal injection is a type of epidural steroid injection. This procedure is used to treat pain that stems from compression or inflammation of the nerve root. Pain most often occurs in the back, however, it can radiate to one’s extremities.

How painful is a transforaminal steroid injection?

There are options available to a patient to help ease discomfort and anxiety during the procedure. Most physicians begin the procedure by using a local anesthetic at the injection site. The patient may feel a slight pinch or pressure from the injection of the anesthetic but will experience little to no pain during the transforaminal injection.

Another option to alleviate pain is sedation. The doctor may administer an IV, resulting in the patient being minimally or heavily sedated. This is considered a good option for patients who have heightened anxiety, low pain tolerance, or difficulty remaining still. Speak to your doctor about your pain relief options prior to the procedure. Procedural practices will vary by the patient, the doctor, and the outpatient facility.

Procedure and Recovery Details

A transforaminal epidural injection is an outpatient procedure that takes an average of 30 minutes to perform. A typical procedure goes as follows:

  1. The patient lies face down on the procedure table.
  2. The injection site is prepped.
  3. A local anesthetic may be injected to reduce pain.
  4. The doctor uses x-ray guidance to direct the needle to the targeted nerve root.
  5. A contrast dye may be injected to ensure proper placement of the needle. This also verifies that the medication will not disperse into surrounding areas.
  6. Once confirmed, the doctor will slowly inject the steroid into the epidural space.

Immediately following the transforaminal injection, the patient will be monitored. He or she is free to leave once cleared. It is recommended that the patient not drive for at least 24 hours post-procedure, specifically if sedation was involved. Non-strenuous activity may resume as usual. The patient will begin feeling the effects of the steroid injection after 3 days.

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