Understanding Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural Steroid Injections are a common treatment option for many forms of low back pain and leg pain. They have been used for low back problems for many years and are still an integral part of the non-surgical management of sciatica and low back pain. The goal of the injection is pain relief; at times the injection alone is sufficient to provide relief, but commonly an epidural steroid injection is used in combination with a comprehensive rehabilitation program to provide additional benefit.
What is it? An epidural steroid injection is a procedure to help relieve pain that originates in your neck or back. It provides pain relief by delivering a steroid (anti-inflammatory medication) into the spinal area. The steroid helps to decrease the inflammation that causes swelling and irritability of the spinal nerves. By decreasing the inflammation, the nerve returns to a more normal state, which should reduce the pain. It does not change the condition of the discs or surrounding structures. Although rare, the risks may include allergic reaction to the medication, spinal headache, nerve damage, bleeding and prolonged increased pain.
How should I prepare? You will need a driver. Please arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled injection time. Notify your provider if you are taking blood thinners, you have an allergy to contrast dye, there is a change you may be pregnant, or if you are taking antibiotics.
What should I expect during the procedure? The injection is done by a physician under fluoroscopy (x-ray). You will be brought into the procedure room and lay on your stomach on a special table. If you are receiving oral or IV sedation, this will be administered prior to the procedure. Your skin will be cleaned at the injection site and a local anesthetic will be used to numb your skin. The fluroscope (x-ray machine)will be used to help visualize the needle as it is guided to the appropriate site. Then contrast dye is injected to ensure correct placement, followed by the steroid medication. You may feel a sensation of pressure or discomfort during the injection. An anesthetic may also be injected into the affected area with the steroid to provide temporary relief. After the injection, you will be moved into the recovery area, where you will be monitored for 15-20 minutes by a nurse. If you received IV sedation, you will need to stay for at least 1 hour to be monitored. You may experience temporary numbness or weakness in the legs, which is why you must have a driver. This should subside in 30-40 minutes.
What happens after the procedure? We recommend that you take it easy for the remainder of the day. You may resume normal activities the next day. You may experience tenderness or aggravated symptoms for several days after the injection. You may use ice packs to help with this pain. Patients usually feel relief after a few days; however, it may take 10-14 days to take effect. You should follow-up with your TCPC provider 2 weeks after the injection, so that they can assess the injection’s effectiveness and determine the next step in your care.
If you would like to learn more about your pain relief options,
call our experts at 952-841-2345.