How is the procedure done?
The patient lies face down. A cushion under the stomach area provides comfort and flexes the back. In this position, the spine opens and allows for easier access to the epidural space. A local anesthetic is used to numb the skin. All the tissue down to the surface of the lamina portion of the lumbar vertebra bone is anesthetized. The physician slides a thicker needle through the anesthetized track.
Using a fluoroscope for guidance, the physician slides the needle toward the epidural space between the L-4 and L-5 vertebra. A contrast solution is injected. The physician uses the fluoroscope to confirm the correct location of the needle tip. A steroid-anesthetics mix is injected into the epidural space, bathing the painful nerve root with soothing medication.
The needle is removed, and a small bandage is applied to cover the tiny needle surface wound. In some cases it may be necessary to repeat the procedure as many as three times to get the full benefit of the medication. Many patients get significant relief from only one or two injections.
What are the risks?
As with most invasive 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.
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 back pain, new numbness or weakness in your legs, or signs of infection at the injection site (redness, swelling or bleeding), you should contact us right away.