Epidural Steroid Injection
An epidural steroid injection is a fairly simple, non-surgical procedure that treats pain and can serve as a diagnostic tool. Conditions typically treated include sciatica and other conditions in which the nerve becomes irritated such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis.
The doctor injects a combination of local anesthetic and steroid drugs either directly into the collection of nerves in the back or into the joint spaces of the spine.
The benefits to epidural steroid injections are three-fold.
- Injecting steroids into the epidural space helps reduce the inflammation of the nerves, nerve roots, or nerve coverings, which are the source of leg pain.
- The steroids serve as a temporary form of pain relief so the body can begin its natural healing process.
- An epidural steroid injection is a good diagnostic tool because its blockage of the nerve pinpoints the source of your pain.
A majority of patients experience significant pain relief after just one steroid injection. However, some patients may need to undergo the procedure two or three times to reap the full benefits of the treatment.
There are other types of steroid injections which treat back and neck: transforaminal, and caudal.
The transforaminal steroid injection is used mainly for diagnostic purposes. Nerve roots exit the spinal canal and enter the body through small openings between the vertebrae called the foraminae. Doctors inject a mix of steroids in the area around a selected nerve root between the foraminae to determine if that nerve is, in fact, the cause of the pain. This type of injection is most commonly used in the cervical spine region.