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?After an injection, patients report feeling immediate pain relief and numbness in their back and some leg pain for up to six hours. This is primarily due to the numbing medication or Lidocaine that was injected during the procedure. These symptoms mean the medication injected has made it to the proper spot.It is possible that a patient’s pain could return after this short pain-free time, or may even get a little worse for the next 24-48 hours.
This is completely normal, as is the case with other shots or injections. The pain could be caused by either needle irritation, muscle tightness or by the steroid used in the injection. Steroids normally take 48-72 hours to begin working; however, it can take up to one 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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