Inflammation is a common component of many low back conditions. Reducing that inflammation can help relieve pain. A steroid or cortisone injection contains a fast-acting local anesthetic for temporary pain relief, as well as saline, which dilutes the chemicals that promote inflammation.
What to Expect
- We will contact you prior to your appointment to review your current medications, your medical history, and potential risks. We will also answer any questions you may 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 a table and the skin in the targeted area will be cleaned and then numbed with a local anesthetic.
- The procedure can cause some discomfort. If indicated, the skin and deeper tissues will be numbed with a local anesthetic prior to the steroid injection. Typically, you’ll feel strong pressure and not much pain.
- Using fluoroscopy (live X-ray) for guidance, a needle will be inserted into the skin and directed toward the epidural space. Fluoroscopy helps ensure that we target the injection accurately.
- The radiologist who specializes in injections may use contrast material into, or adjacent to, the site thought to be causing your pain, highlighting the space to guide the steroid injection.
- 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 then 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.