Epidural Steroid Injection


During an Epidural Steroid Injection, a physician will use x-ray technology to guide a thin needle into the epidural space along your spine. These injections are often used to treat back pain caused by spinal nerve inflammation. Typically, you’ll start to feel the benefits within two days, and the results can last for up to 3 months.

Back pain is a serious ailment that can affect your ability to participate in your favorite activities, do your job, sleep well and more. But new treatments, including epidural steroid injection, can alleviate the inflammation that is causing your pain.

What causes the inflammation?

Back pain and the inflammation associated with it can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:

  • Herniated disc
  • Slipped disc
  • Bone spur
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis

Epidural Steroid Injection: The Non-Surgical Treatment

When your back pain has compromised your quality of life, you may consider surgical options to treat the underlying condition. Epidural Steroid Injection is an effective, non-surgical treatment that provides long-lasting relief from back pain caused by a variety of conditions. And you don’t have to travel far to get relief. 

To schedule a consultation for your Epidural Steroid Injection, contact our Roanoke office at 540-777-5454.

Preparing for an Epidural Steroid Injection

If you’re taking blood thinners, such as Coumadin, your doctor may direct you to stop taking it for a few days before the procedure. This goes for aspirin-based medications, too.

You may experience a slight spike in your blood sugar, so if you are diabetic, ask your doctor what steps to take to control your blood sugar during and after the procedure.

On the day of your procedure, wear comfortable clothes and shoes and leave your jewelry and valuables at home. As with any medical procedure, someone will need to drive you home and stay with you through the next day, just in case there are any complications.

Epidural Steroid Injection Process

You will be lying on your stomach or on your side during the procedure.

Your physician will use x-ray technology to guide a thin needle into the epidural space along your spine and deliver the medication directly to the inflamed area. Following the injection, you will lie on your back or stay in a seated position for up to 30 minutes.

Most patients experience pain relief within 12 to 48 hours after the injection, and results can last for up to three months.

Depending on your condition, your physician may recommend Epidural Steroid Injections at regularly scheduled intervals. If your pain returns before your next appointment, ask your physician about your options.

Risks of Epidural Steroid Injection

There are very few risks associated with an epidural steroid injection. The most common risks are associated with any type of needle stick, including infection and allergic reaction.

Side effects of an Epidural Steroid Injection can include:

  • Headache
  • Bleeding
  • Fever
  • Blood sugar spike
  • Numbness and tingling at injection site
The majority of patients say that the risks are greatly outweighed by the pain relief an Epidural Steroid Injection provides.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need an Epidural Steroid Injection?
You have back, leg, neck or arm pain that can be attributed to spinal nerve inflammation and other treatment options haven’t eased your discomfort or improved your ability to function.
How do I prepare for an Epidural Steroid Injection?
You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure.

Tell your doctor if you have had any kidney problems or reactions to x-ray dye or contrast. If so, your doctor may want to prescribe medicine for you to take before your procedure.

Ask your doctor about taking your regular medications prior to your Epidural Steroid Injection, especially Coumadin. Your doctor may want to stop your Coumadin for a few days prior to your procedure. Generally, your medications may be taken with a little sip of water. Please bring all medications you are currently taking with you on the day of your exam.

If you are a diabetic, consult your doctor about your diabetes medications.

Arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you until the next day. You will not be able to drive, leave by yourself, or take a cab home without a companion.

Please notify your physician if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

On the day of your procedure, wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and leave your jewelry and valuables at home if possible.
What happens before an Epidural Steroid Injection?

You’ll check in with our receptionist and be asked to complete some paperwork. Please bring your insurance cards and a list of your medications.

A nurse and the interventional radiologist will talk to you about the procedure in detail. They will answer any questions you have and ask you to sign a consent form.

Then you’ll put on a hospital gown and the nurse will start an IV to give you fluids and medications. You may also need lab or blood work done before the procedure.

Our staff will show your family or companion(s) to our comfortable waiting room for the duration of your appointment.

What happens during an Epidural Steroid Injection?

We’ll take you into our procedure room and place you on the x-ray table.

We’ll assess where to place the needle for the procedure, then shave, clean and drape the area. The circumstances of your pain will determine which method of Epidural Steroid Injection we use.

  • Interlaminar - We’ll place the needle into the epidural space between two vertebrae.
  • Caudal - We’ll place the needle into the sacral hiatus, an area located just above your tailbone.
  • Transformial - We’ll place the needle directly alongside the inflamed nerve where it exits the spine.

Before we begin the Epidural Steroid Injection, we’ll numb the area with a local anesthetic. Then, your radiologist will use the x-ray to ensure he places the needle into the right spot. As the injection is administered, the x-ray will show exactly where the steroid is reaching.

What happens after an Epidural Steroid Injection?

After the Epidural Steroid Injection is complete, we’ll apply manual pressure to the area for 15-20 minutes or until the bleeding stops. We’ll apply a dressing to the site and take you to the recovery room. We’ll monitor your condition for 2-4 hours until you are ready to be discharged.

The staff will review discharge instructions with you and give you a copy of those instructions to take home.

Your family or companion will then drive you home and stay with you overnight.

The following day, you may resume your normal diet and medication schedule, unless otherwise directed. Ask your physician about exercising or working before you resume your normal routine.

We’ll send a report of your Epidural Steroid Injection to your primary care physician and his or her office will follow up with results and a forward care plan.