A lumbar epidural steroid injection is administered to help relieve low back pain with or without leg pain (lumbar radiculopathy). Similarly, a cervical epidural steroid injection is performed to decrease neck pain and cervical radiculopathy. Dr. Jose Colon, MD may perform an epidural spinal injection for one or two reasons:
- Reduce nerve inflammation, calm symptoms, aid healing
- Obtain important diagnostic information*
*Pain relief may prove a particular nerve root is causing or contributing to pain and symptoms.
The entire procedure often takes about 15 minutes. However, if you have more than one spinal level treated, your procedure may take longer.
The procedure involves injecting a local anesthetic and corticosteroid into the epidural space. As the medications are injected, they coat nerve roots. The local anesthetic provides immediate short-term pain relief. Corticosteroids take time to be effective, but may provide long-term pain relief.
- A corticosteroid is a powerful, slow-releasing man-made anti-inflammatory drug.
- The epidural space is a protective tissue around the spinal cord. It contains blood vessels and fat tissue.
About the procedure
An epidural injection is administered in a sterile setting. After you change into a gown and lie down, medications are given intravenously to relax you. In the procedure suite, you are positioned face down on the table. A cushion is placed beneath your abdomen to flex your spine. The skin area is cleansed using sterile soap. A local anesthetic is injected to numb your skin and spine muscles. Our doctors keep you comfortable during the entire procedure.
The procedure is performed using fluoroscopy (real-time x-ray) to guide the needle into position. A contrast dye is injected to confirm needle placement. Then the anesthetic and corticosteroid is injected into the epidural space. Pain may temporarily increase during the injection. After the injection, a small bandage covers injection site.
After the procedure
You are moved into a recovery area where your vital signs are closely monitored until Dr. Colon and his medical team deems you are ready to go home.
Before you are released to go home, our medical team gives you written home-care instructions. It is common to feel some discomfort two or three days after a lumbar (or cervical) epidural steroid injection. Post-procedural discomfort does not always mean the corticosteroid is not taking effect. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us. We are here to help you.
A medical staff member telephones you the morning after your spinal injection to follow up. We urge you to keep a pain journal to record your discomfort or pain and symptoms. Your notes help Dr. Colon measure your response to the spinal injection.