What is an Epidural Steroid Injection and How Does it Work?

An epidural steroid injection (ESI) 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.

Lumbar Corticosteroid Injections for Low Back Pain and More

An epidural steroid injection 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 Do Epidural Steroid Injections Treat?

Patients with pain in the neck, arm, low back, or leg may benefit from epidural steroid injections. Specifically, those with the following conditions:

What to Expect From The 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.

Types of Epidural Steroid Injections

Interlaminar Injection

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.

Caudal Injection

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.

Woman at elevators in front of San Antonio Eye Specialists sign.

The Epidural Steroid Injection Process


Schedule an Appointment

Give us a call to schedule your appointment to one of our locations. You can also fill out our form, and we’ll reach out to finalize your appointment.


Initial Evaluation

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.


"Dr. Jarzembeck is AMAZING. I HIGHLY recommend her for anyone suffering in pain. She goes above and beyond to make sure her patients pain has been dealt with."

Genia G.

"Everyone is so friendly and helpful, Dr. Bednar came to me and explained the procedure and answered my questions. Highly recommend!"

Maggie G.

"Dr. Julia is the best! The staff is professional and friendly to all. Best of all, Dr. Julia is finding solutions for my chronic pain! Never thought that it would be possible. It's a journey for me, but it seems like there is a solution."

Nancy M.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the side effects of epidural steroid injections?

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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
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • 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.

How long does a corticosteroid injection last?

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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?

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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?

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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.

Lunch & Learn With Our Doctors

Curious about Spinal Cord and Peripheral Nerve Stimulation? Join our doctors for an in-person lunch and learn session to find out more about these treatments and ask any questions you may have. This event will be 12–1pm, sign up below to receive more details and RSVP.

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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 four convenient locations in Austin, Kyle, Dripping Springs, and San Marcos, 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.

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