A lumbar, Thoracic, or Cervical epidural steroid injection is an outpatient procedure for treating pain in the back and neck.
What is the Epidural Space?
The dura is a protective covering of the spinal cord and nerves. The area surrounding the dura is the epidural space.
What Causes Pain in the Epidural Space?
The spine bones are called vertebrae. Soft discs between the vertebrae act as cushions, which support and help control motion.
If a disc tears, chemicals inside may leak out, causing pain and inflammation of the nerve roots and/or the dura. A large tear may cause a disc to bulge, resulting in increased inflammation and pain.
What is an Epidural Steroid Injection?
During this procedure, a local anesthetic or numbing medicine and a corticosteroid or anti-inflammatory medicine are injected into the epidural space to reduce inflammation.
What Happens During an Injection?
A local anesthetic will be used to numb your skin. Your doctor will then insert a thin needle directly into the epidural space. Fluroscopy, a type of live x-ray, will be employed to make sure the needle is in the correct spot. X-ray dye or contrast will be injected to ensure the needle placement in the epidural space. Once your physician is sure the needle is correctly placed, the medicine will be injected. The injection will only take 5-10 minutes
What Happens After the Injection?
You may feel immediate pain relief and numbness in your back and leg pain for up to six hours after the injection. This is due to the numbing medication or Lidocaine that was injected. This means the medication has reached the right spot.
Your pain may return after this short pain-free period, or may even be a little worse for a day or two. This is normal, as with any injection or shot. It may be caused by needle irritation, muscle tightness or by the steroid itself. Steroids usually take two or three days to start working, but can take as long as a week.
How Long Can I Expect Pain Relief?
It depends on the amount of inflammation. For some, a single injection could result in several months of pain relief. If your pain is caused by injury to more than one area, or your injury is more severe, only some of your symptoms will be helped by a single injection and further injections may be required.
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