Spinal injections are performed either to confirm a suspected diagnosis and/or to reduce pain and inflammation for patients who suffer from chronic spine pain.
An epidural steroid injection is a non-surgical approach to treating chronic spine pain and does not serve as a cure for the problem. However, the injection delivers steroids directly to the area of pain to help decrease inflammation that may serve as a source of the pain. Spinal nerves can become inflamed due to irritation from a damaged disc or from contact with a bone spur.
The medication from the epidural steroid injection is placed in the epidural space, which is a sleeve-like space around the dura (the membrane that covers the nerve roots in the spine). The process of natural healing can occur more quickly once inflammation is reduced. Results indicate that an epidural steroid injection can significantly reduce pain for approximately 50% of patients.
Epidural steroid injection procedure
This procedure usually takes approximately 15 - 30 minutes, and you will be made to feel as comfortable as possible during the injection process. Dr. Siddiqi may give you a sedative to calm you if he believes that is needed.
First, your skin will be cleansed with a sterilizing solution and a sterile drape will be placed over your skin. A local anesthetic is usually administered near the injection site to numb the skin. X-ray imaging, or fluoroscopy, is used to direct a small needle into the epidural space. You will feel some pressure during this part of the procedure. Contrast dye may also be injected to confirm correct placement of the needle.
Once the time released anti-inflammatory medicine (steroid) is injected, a small bandage may be placed at the injection site. You will need about 45 minutes of recovery time before you leave the doctor's office. You should arrange for someone to drive you to the office, and must plan for plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activities on the day the injection is administered.
After an epidural injection
Following the injection, patients may experience partial numbness from the anesthetic in the arms or legs, but this should subside after a few hours. An increase in pain may occur for the first several days following the injection, due to the lapse between the anesthetic wearing off and the steroid beginning to work. Ice packs can help relieve the discomfort.
Improvements in pain will generally occur within 10 days after the injection, but may occur in as little as one to five days. Patients may resume their normal activities the day after receiving an injection, but are advised to take caution and increase activity slowly to avoid any recurrence of pain.