An epidural steroid injection is an injection that contains corticosteroid and anesthetic which is injected into the epidural space to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
The area between the bony vertebra and the protective sac of your spinal nerves is known as the epidural space. The epidural space is filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The epidural space provides cushioning for your spinal nerves and spinal cord.
Epidural steroid injection is used to relieve chronic pain. It can be given to patients during and after surgery to relieve pain. It also relieves pain and inflammation in and around the spinal nerve roots.
Epidural steroid injection does not provide permanent pain relief. It provides immediate but temporary pain relief until a more permanent pain-relieving procedure is provided such as an epidural radiofrequency ablation.
Uses of epidural injection
An epidural steroid injection is used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation caused by:
- Chronic back or leg pain after undergoing spinal surgery.
- A herniated disk
- Degenerative disc
- Bone spurs
- Injuries at the spinal nerves, vertebrae and surrounding tissues
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve root canal)
- Spondylolisthesis (weakness or fracture between the upper and lower facet)
Preparation for epidural steroid injection procedure
Before having an epidural steroid injection, your doctor will first ensure that you are a right candidate for the treatment.
Your doctor will review your medical history and previous imaging scans.
If you are on blood-thinning medications, you will need to stop taking them several days before your treatment. Inform your doctor if you are on any other medications or have any allergies.
You will need to come to the hospital or clinic with someone that will drive you back home on the day of your treatment because you can’t drive after the injection due to the effect of the injection.
How epidural steroid injection treatment is given
There are 3 different types of epidural space. These are the cervical epidural, Lumbar, and Caudal epidural.
The cervical epidural is at the upper neck region
The lumbar epidural is at the lower back
The caudal epidural is at the tailbone or buttock.
The area where the injection will be given depends on the area where you feel pain.
You will be asked to lie down on your belle on an x-ray table. You will be administered a local anesthetic to numb the pain area to reduce discomfort to the barest minimum.
You will be awake throughout the treatment so that you can provide feedback on how you feel.
With the aid of an x-ray fluoroscope, your doctor will first direct a hollow needle through your skin and between the vertebrae into the epidural space. The fluoroscope is connected to a screen and your doctor views the direction of the needle on the screen.
When the needle is in the right position, a contrast dye will be injected into the epidural space to enable your doctor see clearly the nerves responsible for the pain. Your doctor will then inject the medication containing the corticosteroid and anesthetic into the epidural space to numb the nerves.
The anesthetic helps to provide immediate pain relief while the corticosteroid is an anti-inflammatory drug that helps to reduce swelling and provide more long-lasting pain relief.
The procedure is a relatively short one that takes about 15-45 minutes to be completed.
After the injection
After the injection has been given, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will be monitored for a short time.
You can go back home shortly after but someone needs to drive you home. You may be given a pain diary to record your pain improvement processes for a few weeks.
The anesthetic provides immediate but short pain relief. You may start to feel increased pain when the effect of the anesthetic starts to wear off. The corticosteroid doesn’t take effect immediately but the pain relieving effect lasts much longer. The corticosteroid starts to take effect after a few hours.
Pain relief may last for weeks or even years depending on the patient and some other factors. Some patients may need to go for more treatment sessions to experience long-lasting pain relief.
Risks or complications
Epidural steroid injection is generally a safe treatment. There are minor side effects and risks that some patients may experience.
- Bleeding at the injection site
- Allergic reaction
- Spinal headache
- Water retention
- Weight gain
- Elevated sugar level
- Mood swings
- Nerve damage or paralysis (rare)
Why is there negative pressure in the epidural space?
It is suggested that the initial negative pressure experienced when a needle is directed into the epidural space is as a result of the initial bulging of the ligament in front of the needle and also as a result of the rapid return of the ligament to its resting position once the needle has perforated it.
How long does epidural pain last?
Epidural pain normally gets better when the corticosteroid has started taking effect. The pain relief could last for days, months, or even years.
Can you lay on your back after an epidural?
Yes. Immediately after the injection is given, you will be taken to a recovery room for a short time so that you can be monitored. After then, you can go back home. You are allowed to lie on your back, turn, walk, and do anything you want to do after the injection is given.
Apex Interventional Pain & Spine: Best Epidural Steroid Injection Provider in Coppell Texas
Apex Interventional Pain & Spine is a reputable medical center that specializes in the treatment and management of pain. Our aim is to help people live a pain-free life by providing them with long-lasting pain treatments.
We specialize in providing a variety of pain treatments including epidural steroid injection. Whether you are suffering from acute or chronic pain, we are the right clinic that you should visit.