An epidural steroid injection is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical procedure in which pain-killing medication is strategically administered into a small space in the back or neck. It is used to alleviate pain in either the arms, neck, back and/or legs that are caused by inflamed spinal nerves. Pain relief obtained with an epidural injection can eliminate the need for oral medication and delay or eliminate the need for surgery. Epidural injections may be used to provide sufficient enough pain relief to enable a patient to undertake a rehabilitation program.
Epidurals are effective in addressing pain caused by a number of issues that involve inflamed spinal nerves. Some of the most common are:
Patients lie on their stomach on the treatment table. The injection site is then cleaned. Next, a local anesthetic is injected to numb the area. The patient is awake and completely aware during the procedure. Following the anesthetic, a contrast dye is injected into the treatment area to assist in exact needle placement. The aim is to inject the pain medication as close to the inflamed nerve root as possible. Precise placement is also aided by the use of a fluoroscope, a live-time X-ray, that allows the doctor to view the needle as he directs it into the epidural space. The actual procedure usually takes only about five minutes. Discomfort is minimal. Most patients can stand up and walk around immediately following the procedure. They are monitored for just a short time in the office but must have someone drive them home. Most patients resume their regular day-to-day activities the next day.