What Is an Epidural Steroid Injection?
Epidural steroid injections are one of the least invasive and most common interventions aimed to decrease or eliminate pain. The injections are most commonly given for neck, back, leg, or nerve pain. The medication is administered through a needle using fluoroscopy guidance, and injected into the epidural space of the affected area. The injection contains medications that mimic the body’s natural hormones cortisone and hydrocortisone. When this medication is given near irritated nerves, it helps by reducing inflammation, thereby relieving pain.
Preparation – The patient’s vital signs are taken, and pre-op paperwork is completed.
The patient is brought into the procedure room where they lie face down on a stretcher. A blanket and/or pillow can be used for comfort. The skin area of injection is then cleansed, using betadine or alcohol. Local anesthetic is sometimes given to numb the area of injection.
Injecting the Medication – The physician uses an X-ray device called a fluoroscope to carefully guide a needle into the affected areas. Once visual confirmation is done, the physician then injects a mix of medication around the irritated areas to calm and ease the pain. The cortisone and/or numbing medication works by decreasing inflammation and blocking pain, thus providing relief.
End of Procedure – The needle is removed, and sometimes a small band aid is placed at the injection site. There is no drainage or bleeding after. The patient is monitored for a short period and then discharged home via wheelchair. You may resume normal activities as tolerated and there is little to no down time at all. The entire procedure usually takes around 15 minutes or less.
What to Expect After
Pain relief – usually occurs within one to two weeks following the injection, and sometimes much earlier. The procedure may be repeated up to three times for full beneficial relief. Most patients get significant relief of their symptoms with just one or two injections. You should follow up with your doctor approximately two weeks after your injections are completed.
Side Effects? – Some mild irritation to the injected area and affected nerves may occur for up to 72 hours after the procedure. It is not uncommon to have weakness in the arms or legs, as well as a burning or tingling sensation on the day of injection. Please call the office immediately if you have any side effects or have any questions following your injection at 504-340-6976.