Epidural Steroid Injections

An epidural injection, often referred to as a nerve block injection, is a minimally invasive procedure to help treat pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves. The medication from the epidural injection travels throughout the epidural space calming the painful nerves.

What is an epidural injection?

The medication used in an epidural injection usually includes both a local anesthetic and a steroid. The medicine is delivered directly into the epidural space of the spine. This can reduce inflammation causing a reduction or elimination of the pain caused by the inflamed nerve root.

Who is a candidate for an epidural injection?

Patients who suffer from neck, arm, low back, trunk, or leg pain may benefit from an epidural injection. Epidural injections are often used to treat patients with radicular pain caused by a compressed or irritated spinal nerve root. Radicular pain is pain radiating down an arm or leg, commonly known as sciatic nerve pain, in the leg. Herniated discs and spinal stenosis are common causes of this condition. Because these injections are used to reduce inflammation, they are sometimes used to treat moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the spine.

What happens during the epidural injection procedure?

The epidural injection procedure is quick and simple. It typically takes a few minutes followed by a recovery period. Patients will remain awake during the epidural injection, but will be given local anesthetic to numb the skin before the injection is given. With the aid of a fluoroscope the physician will direct a needle through the skin into the epidural space where they will deposit small amounts of long-lasting steroids. Some discomfort occurs but patients typically feel more pressure than pain. The epidural injection specifically targets the inflamed area minimizing steroid exposure to the rest of the body.

What happens after the epidural injection?

The majority of patients can walk around immediately following the epidural injection procedure; however you will still need to have someone to drive you home. Patients typically resume full activity the following day. There may be soreness around the epidural injection site that can be relieved by using ice and a mild analgesic such as Tylenol. It can take several days for pain relief to occur as the steroids gradually reduce inflammation.

How long does the epidural injection last?

Some patients receive relief from one epidural injection, while others need up to three epidural injections. The benefits of an epidural injection can last anywhere from days to years. The goal is to reduce pain so you can resume normal activities and a physical therapy program.

For additional information on epidural injections, please request an appointment with one of our Southeast Pain and Spine Care pain management physicians.