Epidural injections are used to treat back pain, with or without hip and leg pain, and to treat neck pain, with or without arm and shoulder pain.
This procedure may provide weeks or months of pain relief. However, additional injections may be needed, and are sometimes scheduled in sequence to offer the best chance of long-term pain relief.
What To Expect
The radiologist uses fluoroscopy, or live x-ray, to locate the proper site of treatment. A small needle is placed through the skin into the back of the spinal canal, causing no more pain than having blood drawn. Contrast material is injected to insure accurate needle placement, and long-acting steroid medications are then injected to diminish inflammation and decrease your pain. The steroid injections may be slightly uncomfortable.
It is very unlikely that you will experience any harmful effects from this treatment. Occasionally, spinal fluid leakage and headache occur, but simple bed rest and administration of fluids easily treat the effects. Temporary loss of muscle function is also possible, but this will resolve itself within a few hours after the local anesthetic wears off. A very few patients experience fainting related to nervousness. Infection is possible, although very unlikely.
You may already have had other diagnostic procedures performed. Additional procedures may be required to help your doctor determine precisely the origin of your pain and the most appropriate treatment.
No special preparation is required before receiving epidural steroid injections. The radiologist and technologist will be happy to answer any questions you may have before beginning the procedure.