Epidural Steroid Injection
Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) provide treatment for pain associated with disc protrusions, bulging discs, degeneration and spinal stenosis. ESIs are fairly common and can help identify the source of your pain and reduce inflammation. The resulting pain relief may last for several days or even years. It is often used to treat pain in the neck, back or side that sometimes radiates into your limbs from the site of a pinched or inflamed nerve. The goal is to reduce your pain so that you may resume normal activities and/or a physical therapy program.
What to Expect
- We’ll contact you prior to your appointment to review current medications, your medical history, and potential risks. We’ll also answer any questions you have about the procedure.
- Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant, nursing, or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
- Contact your doctor before you stop taking any medication.
- On the day of your exam, please arrive 15 minutes early to check in.
- Please arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
- Although complications are rare, we will review possible side effects and risks with you prior to your exam so you can ask questions and decide if this exam is right for you.
- When you arrive, you will be led to a changing room and given a pair of scrubs to wear for your exam. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam.
- You will lie on an X-ray table and the skin in the targeted area will be cleaned and then numbed with a local anesthetic.
- The procedure may cause some discomfort. If indicated, we numb the skin and deeper tissues with a local anesthetic prior to the epidural injection. Typically, you will feel strong pressure and not much pain.
- Using a form of live X-ray called fluoroscopy for guidance, a needle will be inserted into the skin and directed toward the epidural space. This increases the precision of the injection.
- The radiologist will inject contrast material into, or adjacent to, the epidural space thought to be causing your pain, highlighting the space to guide the steroid injection.
- Then the radiologist will slowly release a combination of anti-inflammatory (steroid) and anesthetic (numbing) medications into the epidural space.
- When your procedure is complete, you’ll be escorted back to the changing room so you can change out of the scrubs and back into your clothing.
- You may experience numbness and/or relief from your symptoms after the injection.
- The beneficial effects of the steroids usually require two to three days to take hold, but may take as long as five to seven days. Your usual symptoms may return and possibly be worse than usual for a day or two. Every patient is different and your results may vary.
- If there is no change in your symptoms after a week, your doctor may want to investigate other possible sources for your pain.
- You may be asked to keep track of how long relief lasts and report it to your physician; this information is useful when considering next steps.
- If the injection blocked your pain effectively, but only for a short time, your physician may request additional injections or consider a procedure that offers more permanent relief.