Your pain specialist has recommended that you receive an epidural steroid injection for the treatment of your pain. The location of the injection may be cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), lumbar (lower back), or caudal (tailbone).
A cortisone-type medicine (“steroid”) and a local anesthetic are injected into the epidural space surrounding the spinal nerves. The medicine bathes the nerves in this area and reduces inflammation, interrupting the pain cycle, ultimately giving you pain relief. It is hoped that this will allow you to start a program of gentle exercise, relaxation, and rehabilitation. The steroid medicine has strong anti-inflammatory properties which will reduce swelling and pain, thereby allowing the healing and recovery process to begin.
Upon arrival at the surgery center, a nurse will escort you to a room where you will change into a gown before entering the procedure room. This is a special room, kept to the highest standards of cleanliness. To reduce the risk of “outside germs”, we request that only our pain center staff accompany you there. An intravenous line (IV) will be started prior to the procedure, and you will be placed on a monitor that will check your blood pressure and heart rate. The IV provides an easy route by which you will receive medication to help you relax and make the procedure as comfortable as possible. You will not be “put to sleep”, and you will be able to respond and move if the doctor or nurse asks you to. The actual injection only takes a few minutes. It is rare for any of my patients to experience significant pain during the procedure, and every effort is made to ensure your comfort.
You will need to stay approximately 30 minutes in the recovery room following the procedure. The medication you received to help you relax will wear off very quickly. The total time you will be at the center is approximately 90 minutes. The nurse will tell you what to expect and how to take care of yourself after you return home. You will also receive these instructions in writing. For safety reasons, we request that you do not drive yourself home.
Pain Relief – It may take 2-3 days before the steroid medicine starts to work. It may take 3-10 days before the full benefits of the steroid medicine become apparent. During this time you may need to use your pain medicine. Remember the steroid medicine needs time to work. For optimum pain relief epidural steroid injections are usually performed in a series of three, but your doctor may modify the treatments to best suit your needs.
Be sure to take your medicine(s) as the doctor orders, especially if there are any new medicines prescribed on the day of the procedure.
The nurse will attempt to contact you by phone a few days after your procedure to ask you how you are doing.
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