Epidural Steroid Injection
An epidural steroid injection may be recommended for patients experiencing an extended period of pain, numbness or tingling that results from conditions associated with the spine. These conditions may cause inflammation or irritation of the nerves along the spine, in the neck to the lower back. There is an area surrounding the spinal cord known as the epidural space, and by injecting a medication called a corticosteroid into this area, inflammation can be greatly reduced or eliminated, resulting in pain relief. Examples of patients who may benefit from this procedure might be those who are experiencing pain, numbness, or tingling from herniated, protruding, or degenerated discs, osteoarthritis of the spine, spinal stenosis, and from scar tissue resulting from prior neck or lower back surgery.
This procedure is done for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, and takes about 20 minutes to complete. Preparation for the procedure and lumbar epidural steroid injection recovery will take additional time.
Frequently Asked Questions about Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections
Will I need to take a whole day off from work for the procedure? Yes, but you should be able to return the work the following day.
If I feel up to it, can’t I just drive myself home? It is not considered safe to drive or operate other heavy machinery after this procedure. You should arrange for an adult to drive you home.
When will I be able to eat and take my medications? You should be able to resume eating and taking your medications after the procedure.
How soon after the procedure can I bathe? It is okay to take a shower that evening, but avoid taking a bath, being in a hot tub, or swimming until the following day.
When will I be able to remove the bandage? If you have a bandage, you will be able to remove it the evening of the procedure.
What are the possible complications? Although they are rare, some complications can occur. You may feel temporary pain at the injection site, and a cold pack can be applied for comfort that day, or if discomfort persists, some moist heat. Headaches can also occur. Serious complications are very rare, but may include bleeding, infection and nerve damage. If you have a severe increase in pain, develop a fever or chills, or have redness or swelling near the injection site, have someone take you to the nearest emergency room to be evaluated for procedure complications or an infection.
What to Expect
- An evaluation from a pain management physician
- A detailed description of the procedure
- A discussion about potential risks, benefits, and any alternative treatments
- An opportunity to have all of your concerns addressed and questions answered to your satisfaction
Planning for the procedure
- Do not eat solid food for at least 6 hours prior to the procedure
- You may have clear liquids up until 2 hours prior to the procedure
- You may take your prescribed medications for other medical conditions with a small sip of water the morning of the procedure.
- If you are taking a blood thinner medication, please ask the physician who prescribed the medication for directions on stopping it prior to scheduling the procedure
- Do not take pain medication on the day of your procedure. If you are taking an opiate medication for pain, please ask the pain management physician on how best to schedule taking them.
- If you take a diabetic medication, you will need to discuss with your primary care doctor how best to take your medicine since you will be going without food for at least six hours.
- Bring all your medications with you. You will be able to take them as usual after the procedure
- Tell the doctor or staff about any allergies that you have, including medications, seafood, shellfish, latex, or x-ray dyes.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure. You may be given mildly sedating medication, and it will be unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery until the following day.
The Day of the Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection
When you arrive:
- Someone will verify that you have followed the planning instructions and that you have a ride home with an adult driver
- You will have an IV (intravenous) line placed to provide fluids and a medication to help you relax, if needed.
- You will be asked to lie on your stomach on the operating table, and equipment to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen will be applied.
- Your back will be washed with a sterile scrub
- Your skin will be numbed with a local anesthetic for comfort
- X-ray images will be used to guide the proper placement of the needle
- Once the site is located, a medication to numb the nerve and the steroid will be injected
Immediately after the procedure:
- You will be in a recovery room for 30-60 minutes for observation
- A nurse will check your vital signs, and you will be offered a snack
- You will be given discharge instructions
- You will be asked to keep a record your pain relief and the duration of the relief
For more information about this procedure or lumbar epidural steroid injection recovery, or to schedule an appointment, call 419-625-4900.