What Are Injections or Steroid Shots?
An epidural corticosteroid or steroid injection can administer pain relief to your body quickly and efficiently. Pain medicine is injected into the fatty epidural space surrounding the dura, which is the fluid-filled sack that is protecting the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.
The epidural procedure is performed with guidance from a low-dose X-ray, to ensure optimal placement of the medication.
Why Would I Need an Epidural Steroid Shot?
An epidural steroid shot can reduce swelling and pain from irritated discs and nerves from spine-related conditions like arthritis, stenosis, disc herniations, cysts, and bone spurs. Often severe pain in your back, arms, and/or legs that is otherwise difficult to treat can be relieved by an epidural steroid shot.
How is an Epidural Steroid Injection Performed?
After you check-in, you will change into a hospital gown and answer pre-procedure questions. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have diabetes or an allergy to contrast dye before the procedure begins.
The steps of the actual procedure are as follows:
- An injection of anesthetic will numb the skin and muscles covering your spine.
- Low-dose X-ray helps the clinician performing the procedure to guide a needle into the proper location.
- Contrast dye is administered and then medication is slowly injected into the exact site where it is needed.
If at any time you experience discomfort like anxiety or pain, the procedure can be stopped at your request. The entire procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes, and the time from check-in to check-out usually takes two hours or less. This includes recovery time of about 30 minutes.
What Happens After an Epidural Steroid Injection?
You can go home after the procedure and under normal circumstances, resume all your activities the next day. You will probably start feeling relief from the steroids within one to three days, although the full effect might take up to a week. Commonly people experience several months of pain relief and improved function after the injection, which can be repeated if it’s successful. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have side effects or don’t experience pain relief.
What Are the Risks of an Epidural Steroid Injection?
An epidural steroid injection is rarely problematic; chances are you will have no side effects. However, If you do, they could include:
- Flushing of the face and chest
- Temporary changes in your menstrual cycle
- Water retention
- Sleep disturbances
More serious complications are extremely uncommon but include bleeding, allergic reaction, nerve damage, and infection.