What is an Epidural Steroid Injection?
Swelling can occur near the nerves that exit from the spinal column resulting from various conditions such as arthritis of the spinal joints, a “leaky”, protruding or herniated intervertebral disc or scar tissue from previous operations. This infalmmation can cause pain from the swelling pushing against the nerves.
An epidural steroid injection places a very potent anti-swelling medicine (Corticosteroid) very close to where the swelling appears to be. This may or may not be where you feel most of your pain, but this is where the nerves that carry the pain may come from. Generally, many patients experiencing pain as described have a marked reduction or elimination of their pain following one or more of these injections. Some patients who have a reduction, but not elimination of their pain may benefit from further injections after about 5 to 14 days. Some patients, however, may not receive any benefit from an ESI.
What can you expect during the procedure?
Fluoroscopy (X-Ray) and contrast dye, if you are not allergic to it, will be used to help guide the needle(s) to the correct position. The procedure is performed under aseptic (sterile) conditions. If you would like a sedative to help you relax for the procedure, an intravenous needle will be placed by the nurses at the Pain Clinic. You can’t be totally “asleep” for this procedure. If you are receiving sedation, your vital signs will be watched with several monitors for your safety.
What can you expect after the procedure?
You will be discharged 30-60 minutes after the procedure. If sedated during your procedure, you will need someone to drive you home, as you may be drowsy from the medications. Further, you are restricted from driving any automobile or motorized/mechanized vehicle that day or from operating heavy machinery/equipment of any type that day. Even if you have not had sedation, you should not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds or do any type of strenuous work that day. It is possible for your pain to be increased for 24-48 hours after the procedure. As the medication begins to work, you hopefully will find that your pain begins to decrease. There will be a small Band-Aid over the injection site which should be removed the following morning. At that point in time, you will be able to shower.