Epidural Steroid Injection
An epidural steroid injection is a non-surgical treatment recommended for back pain caused by degenerative conditions of the spine and compression of spinal nerves. Spinal nerves may get compressed as a result of damaged vertebral joints, bony overgrowths, herniated discs or thickened ligaments. This can produce back pain as well as pain, numbness or weakness in the arms and legs. Epidural steroid injections are indicated when other conservative treatments fail to alleviate symptoms. It may also be recommended for diagnostic purposes (to identify the compressed nerve).
The injection consists of an anti-inflammatory agent (steroid) and an anesthetic to reduce pain. It is administered into the epidural space present between the outer layer of the spinal cord and the wall of the spinal column.
For the procedure, you will lie face down on a table and the area to be injected is cleansed and then numbed with a local anesthetic. Your doctor uses live X-ray imaging to insert a hollow needle into your spine. This system gives real time X-ray images of the needle position in the spine on a monitor for the doctor to view. A contrast material is then injected through the properly placed hollow needle to confirm that the drug flows to the affected nerve when injected. Once confirmed, the steroid mixture is then injected and the site covered with a sterile bandage. You may feel some pressure during the injection. The injection requires 24-72 hours to take effect and the results may last for weeks to months. The injection may be repeated up to three times a year.
Epidural steroid injections are usually safe procedures done on an outpatient basis, but certain complications such infection, bleeding, persistent pain, headache and nerve damage can occur.