Lumbar Corticosteroid Injections for Low Back Pain and More
An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a minimally invasive procedure that helps reduce back, neck, arm, and leg pain. It works by delivering corticosteroid injections to the epidural space, a fat-filled area just outside the dural sac in your lower spinal cord. One corticosteroid injection usually provides pain relief for a few months. The goal of an epidural steroid injection is to diminish pain so that you can enjoy your favorite activities.
What is an Epidural Steroid Injection and How Does it Work?
An epidural steroid injection includes a corticosteroid. All epidural injections, such as corticosteroid injections, help by reducing inflammation when delivered directly into a painful area. They work by flushing away the proteins on your spinal nerves that cause swelling.
Epidural Steroid Injection Process
Epidural steroid shots are a quick, non-invasive treatment. They involve cleaning and numbing the injection area and the injection itself. Most patients do not require an anesthetic, but sedation is available when needed.
Regardless, make arrangements to have someone drive you home from your Austin pain center the day of the injection, as you shouldn’t drive or do any rigorous activity for 24 hours after treatment.
In this appointment, we’ll go over your medical history, medications, x-rays, and treatments already tried so we can plan the best approach for your epidural shot.
Epidural Steroid Injection
Epidural steroid injections generally take under 30 minutes. The skin in the lower back is cleaned, numbed, and an epidural steroid solution is injected into the epidural space.
Short Post-Treatment Recovery
Most patients can walk around immediately after the procedure. Typically patients resume full activity the next day. If you feel at all sore, simply use ice or a mild analgesic.
Epidural Steroid Injection Uses
Patients with pain in the neck, arm, low back, or leg may benefit from epidural steroid injections. Specifically, those with the following conditions:
- Spinal stenosis
- Lumbar radiculopathy
- Thoracic radiculopathy
- Cervical radiculopathy
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc
- Nerve-related pain
Types of Epidural Steroid Injections
This is the most common type of ESI and is commonly just called an epidural injection. A needle is inserted into the back of the epidural space and delivers the steroid over a wider area.
The caudal injection delivers the steroid through the sacral hiatus, a small boney opening just above the tailbone. The needle placement for this approach is lower on the back, at the very bottom of the epidural space.
Transforaminal Injection (Nerve Block)
A transforaminal injection is often referred to as a “nerve block”, as the needle is placed near the nerve where it exits the spine. Medication is delivered here and moves into the epidural space from the side, allowing for a more concentrated delivery of the steroid.
Epidural Steroid Injection Surgery Side Effects
The risk of complication from a corticosteroid injection is extremely low. Significant complications such as bleeding or infection at the injection site occur in less than one in a hundred patients. Other, more common side effect include:
- Slightly numb or weak legs
- Localized increase in pain
These side effects typically resolve within a few hours. Please contact our office if your symptoms persist for more than 24 hours after the procedure or if you experience new or worsening symptoms.
Epidural Steroid Injection FAQs
How long does a corticosteroid injection last?
The steroid takes two to three days to start to affect most people, peaking after approximately two weeks. Consequently, it can take a while before you feel a reduction in your pain. You can expect to feel some degree of pain relief from a corticosteroid injection for about three months.
How painful is a lumbar epidural steroid injection?
Most people describe the most painful part of an ESI as a temporary stinging or burning sensation at the site of the injection. If you feel anything more than a slight pressure, an additional local anesthetic can be used.
Why would the pain be worse after an epidural steroid injection?
Although rare, some patients may experience an increase in their usual pain for several days following the procedure. This pain is generally mild and resolves itself within a few days. Epidural steroid injections are a low risk, useful, non-surgical pain relief method.
Austin Epidural Injection Pain Doctors
If you suffer from neck, arm, back, or leg pain and want a fast, effective treatment, schedule a visit with Greater Austin Pain Center today. We have three convenient locations in and around the Austin area, all of which offer epidural steroid injections.
Learn more about our team of pain doctors dedicated to your wellbeing. You can also find out more about how we treat pain symptoms and find long term solutions by visiting our pain conditions and treatments pages.