What is an epidural steroid injection?

An epidural steroid injection is placement of a dose of corticosteroid medication (with or without local anesthetic) into the epidural space in the spine. The epidural space is the area around the spinal nerves, next to the tough covering that surrounds them, called the dura.

What are the goals of an epidural steroid injection?

The goals of an epidural steroid injection are:

  • To reduce and possibly eliminate pain
  • To increase function
  • To possibly eliminate the need for surgery

How will an epidural steroid injection help my condition?

Corticosteroids decrease inflammation and swelling that can cause pain and limit function. To achieve the most benefit with the least side effects, the amount of corticosteroid in an epidural steroid injection is carefully monitored. You will be limited to no more than three of these procedures in a six-month period.

What happens during an epidural steroid injection?

You will remain awake for the procedure. An intravenous (IV) line may be started prior to the injection. Once in the procedure suite: • You will be positioned lying face down. • The area for the injection will be washed with an antiseptic solution and covered with sterile drapes. • A local anesthetic will be used to numb the injection site. • You will be asked to remain as still as possible. • IV contrast dye may be used to confirm the correct needle position. • You may feel pressure while the medication is injected into the space.

How long is the procedure?

The entire procedure lasts about 10 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?

You will be monitored for approximately 15 minutes, because the medication takes some time to act. A nurse will review discharge and follow-up instructions with you.

You will need to carefully monitor the degree and duration of your pain relief. The day after your procedure, you may resume your normal daily activities.