What is an epidural injection?
Epidural refers to the space outside the dura or covering of the spinal cord and inside the spinal canal. This space runs the length of the spinal cord. Epidural injections provide diagnostic data and pain relief by delivering local anesthetic and anti-inflammatory action of steroid into the spinal area on the surface of the spinal column. The procedure is done under fluoroscopy (X-ray) guidance so your doctor can better target the direct source of your pain.
What are steroids?
Steroids are a certain form of chemical found naturally in your body. Medically used steroids are potent anti-inflammatory agents. They are useful in the treatment of patients with radiculopathy caused by local inflammation due to disc injury, degenerative changes, and other causes. Most adverse effects are associated with long-term use of steroids. When steroids are used locally with injections, the associated risks are substantially less. Side effects can include indigestion, increased appetite, trouble sleeping, and occasionally headache. Tylenol can help with headaches after a steroid injection or dosing.
Why is it done?
An epidural injection may be ordered by your provider as a means to confirm a specific diagnosis and/or decrease pain and inflammation. In general, epidural injections are recommended to provide pain relief and enable patients to progress with their rehabilitation. Epidural injections may be an effective nonsurgical option for common conditions such as lumbar disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, and lumbar spinal stenosis.
What causes the inflammation causing my symptoms?
Inflammation or irritation of a nerve root most commonly originates from a herniated, degenerated, or “leaky” disc at that spinal nerve root level.
What is the typical procedure?
If a transforaminal epidural is ordered for the cervical, thoracic, or lumbosacral region, an appointment will be made for you at the outpatient surgery or imaging center. You may be given the option to receive light conscious sedation, which is medication given intravenously to help you relax during the procedure.