Consider Epidural Steroid Injection for Pain Management

by Donna Werking, Northern AZ Social, LLC

The epidural steroid injection allows anti-inflammatory medicine (steroid) to be injected into the epidural space to treat pain caused by irritation of the spinal nerves.

A protective covering called the dural sac surrounds the spinal cord. This sac contains spinal fluid that bathes and nourishes the spinal cord. The space between the outer surface of the dural sac and the bones of the spinal column is the epidural space. Nerves that go from the spinal cord, through the spinal column and to the body pass through the epidural space.

Depending on the location of your pain, the epidural steroid injection can be given in the neck (cervical), middle back (thoracic) or lower back (lumbar).

Procedure Overview

The epidural steroid injection is an outpatient procedure done in the Northern Arizona Pain Institutes’ ambulatory surgery center under strict sterile conditions.

For your safety and comfort, the doctor may decide to connect you to monitoring equipment (EKG monitor, blood pressure cuff, and a blood-oxygen monitoring device). You will be positioned on your stomach and the doctor will inject some numbing medicine. Then, the doctor will insert a needle with the assistance of a special X-ray machine called a fluoroscope and inject a radiopaque dye (contrast solution) to confirm the needle is in the correct place.

The doctor will inject a mixture of numbing medicine (anesthetic) and anti-inflammatory medicine (cortisone / steroid). It is possible you will feel pain similar to your normal back pain as the medicine is injected. This is a good sign and means the medicine is going to the right place. The pain usually disappears quickly.

After the Procedure

You may experience some weakness and/or numbness in your legs (lumbar injection), arms (cervical injection), or chest wall (thoracic injection) for a few hours. If so, do not engage in any activities that require lifting, balance and coordination. If the doctor prescribes physical therapy, it is important that you continue with the physical therapy program.

Although you may feel much better immediately after the injection (due to the numbing medicine), there is a possibility your pain may return within a few hours. It sometimes takes a few days for the steroid medication to start working. Watch the procedure at: