Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection

This injection relieves pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms caused by a pinched nerve (or nerves) in the cervical spine. Conditions such as herniated discs and spinal stenosis can compress nerves, causing inflammation and pain. The medication injected helps decrease the swelling of nerves.

How is the procedure performed?

A cervical epidural steroid injection begins with the patient lying down. The physician will administer a local anesthetic in the cervical (neck) region to numb the skin and tissue. A fluoroscope (x-ray) is used to guide a larger needle into the irritated area of the neck. Once the needle is inserted into the epidural space, a contrast dye is injected into the space near the irritated nerves.

A combination of an anesthetic and cortisone steroid solution is injected into the epidural space. The steroid is an anti-inflammatory medication. It is absorbed by the inflamed nerves to decrease swelling and relieve pressure. The needle is removed and a small bandage is applied. The patient goes to a recovery room and is given food and drink and discharged with post treatment instructions.

What are the risks?

As with most procedures, there is a small risk of infection, bleeding, nerve damage and allergic reactions to medications used.

Will the injection hurt?

Many people experience a little stinging at the local anesthetic injection site, although each patient’s experience will vary. Some people experience pressure when the medicine is being injected into the epidural space. It normally takes about 3-5 days for the medicine takes effect.

How will I feel after the injection?

Your pain should reduce within the first 1-2 hours after the injection until the local anesthetic wears off. There may be some discomfort at the injection site. This is normal and should last between 24-48 hours. Ice packs may help reduce inflammation during this time. The injection normally takes effect 3-5 days after the procedure. A normal injection series consists of three procedures over the course of one year.

Will I have any restrictions on the day of the procedure?

It is recommended that the patient be driven to and from the appointment for a cervical epidural steroid injection. Most patients can walk around right after the procedure. We do recommend that the patient take it easy for a few days after the injection.

When should I call my doctor?

If you have severe pain, new numbness or weakness, or signs of infection at the injection site (redness, swelling or bleeding), you should contact us right away.