An epidural steroid injection treats nerve irritation caused by nearby tissues pressing on the nerve. The inflamed nerve root is bathed in steroids, an anti-inflammation medicine, to decrease the irritation of the nerve root that is causing the pain. Treatment can be for the neck region (cervical), middle back area (thoracic) or the lower back area (lumbar).
What to expect
Patients will change into a hospital gown to allow easy access for the physician to clean, numb and inject the area. The procedure takes about 15-30 minutes. The patient will lie flat on an X-ray table with a pillow under their stomach to create a small curve in the back. Using an X-ray for guidance, the physician will insert a needle in the skin toward the epidural space. The correct placement is confirmed and then the steroid solution is injected slowly. Patients will sense some pressure, and are monitored for about 20 minutes before being discharged. Sedatives are available to relieve anxiety.
How to prepare
If a sedative is going to be used, patients will be asked not to eat or drink for several hours prior to the procedure and will need to arrange for a ride home. Blood thinners should be discontinued at least a week prior to the injection.