Epidural Steroid Injection
Conditions such as herniated discs and spinal stenosis can compress nerves, causing severe pain and inflammation. An epidural steroid injection may reduce inflammation and provide back pain relief, while avoiding the need for surgery to fix the problem. The procedure is performed with the patient lying down. A region of skin and tissue of the neck is numbed with a local anesthetic delivered through a small needle. Using x-ray guidance (also called fluoroscopy), the physician guides a larger needle to the painful area of the neck. The needle is inserted into the epidural space, which is the region through which spinal nerves travel. A contrast dye is injected into the space to make sure the needle is properly positioned near the irritated nerve or nerves. Then the anti-inflammatory steroid is injected and absorbed by the inflamed nerves to decrease swelling and relieve pressure. Some patients may need only one injection, but it may take two or three injections to provide significant pain relief. As one of the most commonly used non-invasive and conservative treatments for a variety of cervical spine issues, the injections are known to provide comfort for more than half of those who use them, and they can be safely repeated if pain returns or if therapy needs to progress a bit farther for the best outcome.