What are Epidural Steroid Injections?
Epidural steroid injections are injections of anesthetic and steroid medication into the epidural space of the spine. This reduces inflammation in and around effected nerve roots, and reduces or eliminates pain caused by these nerves. Most patients have near-instant relief, and are able to return to their normal lives. The relief duration from epidural steroid injections will vary from patient to patient, with some patients requiring repeat injections. No more than 3 repeat injections are needed per year.
What Do Epidural Steroid Injections Treat?
Epidural steroid injections can be used as treatment for many types of pain including back and leg pain. Epidural steroid injections can be completed in the lumbar, thoracic, or cervical spine, dependent on the source of the pain the patient is experiencing. By injecting medication directly into the epidural space, pain is able to be reduced or eliminated, without the need for additional medication.
How Does the Procedure Work?
Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection
A transforaminal epidural steroid injection is administered by inserting a needle directly next to the irritated nerve causing pain. Anesthetic and steroid medication are injected directly on the nerve root causing pain. This approach is very precise, and allows a physician to target an individual nerve, rather than a generalized area. Therefore, providing precise relief to the affected area.
Interlaminar Epidural Steroid Injection
This is what is typically referred to as an epidural steroid injection, as it was the only type until modern imaging technology which allowed for more precision. Anesthetic and steroid medication is injected into the epidural space, bathing the nerves along the spine, preventing pain signals from being sent to the brain.
Caudal Epidural Steroid Injection
A caudal epidural steroid injection is an epidural injection that is reached through the caudal (sacral) hiatus, an opening in the sacrum bone, located in the lower region of spine. Anesthetic and steroid medication is injected into this epidural space, providing pain relief from pain.
What are the Risks?
Epidural steroid injections are considered extremely low risk. The most common side effects are injection site pain, temporary discomfort, steroid flushing, a flushing sensation causing redness in the face, and insomnia. These side effects are temporary and typically do not last longer than 3 days.
Benefits of Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural steroid injections offer instant relief. By reducing or eliminating inflammation and pain, patients are able to live their lives comfortably again. Many patients will experience permanent relief, however some will require additional epidural steroid injections, up to a maximum of 3 per year.