Epidural Steroid Injections

What is an epidural steroid injection:

Epidural steroid injections are used to reduce pain resulting from inflammation or compression of spinal nerves inside the spine. This kind of pain is commonly known as “sciatica” when it occurs in the legs. Similar pain can also occur in the arms or trunk depending on which nerves are effected. Steroids are thought to help be reducing inflammation and swelling of spinal nerves.

These injections can be used for therapy or diagnosis. When being used for diagnosis, these injections can be helpful if determining if pain is related to pathology within the spine – as opposed to other causes of leg, trunk or arm pain.

An epidural steroid injection is a day stay procedure. You will spend about 2-4 hours in total at the day surgery facility. The procedure itself takes 15-30 minutes.

How well do they work?

Epidural steroids are controversial, in that some experts believe they are effective in reducing symptoms, and some do not. Epidural steroids are certainly less invasive than alternatives such as surgery, and can also offer useful diagnostic information. To get the longest possible duration of benefit, we generally combine the epidural steroid injection with a Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomy (PFRN) which adds no extra side effects. Please refer to the Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomy information sheet.

What complications can occur?

Complications are uncommon. Please see the Spinal Injection information sheet. It is thought that “particulate steroids” that look cloudy are more likely to cause nerve and spinal cord damage. We only use “non-particulate” steroids (dexamethasone) which are thought to be safer.

After the injection.

If you experience any severe pain, leg weakness or numbness, fevers, chills, severe headaches, bleeding /discharge from the wounds, or if you have any other concerns then please contact NIPM or the Day Hospital centre. If for some reason it is not possible to get in touch, please see your GP or attend your local emergency department for assessment.

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