About the procedure

Epidural steroid injection is a minimally-invasive procedure used to inject a steroid (and often an anesthetic) into the spinal region known as the epidural space. In the spine, the actual nerves, spinal cord, and spinal fluid are contained within a membrane called the dura, and the injection is made into the area just outside this membrane, not within it. The technique is often used to treat chronic low back and leg pain from many causes, and epidural steroid injection is often included as part of a comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation program to treat the underlying causes of the pain.

While epidural spinal injection provides only temporary relief from pain – from one week to a year – it can be very beneficial during acute episodes of back or leg pain, providing enough relief for the patient to participate in stretching or rehabilitation exercises that can provide more permanent relief.

Delivery of the epidural injection is usually performed in a hospital or outpatient setting by experienced interventional radiologists, because placement of the injection in the epidural space is critical, and must be guided by X-ray technology. It is considered a non-surgical, minimally-invasive procedure, and involves precisely injecting an anti-inflammatory steroid, often in conjunction with an anesthetic like lidocaine to reduce inflammation and reduce radiatory pain.

What to expect

In most cases, if your doctors have determined that this treatment is applicable for your condition, you will be treated in a hospital while lying on an X-ray table for precise internal imaging. The interventional radiologist will numb the area where the needle is inserted and then use imaging to guide it to its precise destination. Contrast agents (dyes) may be injected to confirm the needle location, and then the steroid/anesthetic solution is injected slowly. Some patients feel some pressure while this is taking place, but there is usually no pain, so sedatives or local anesthetics may not even be necessary.

After the procedure, you will be monitored by medical staff for 15 to 20 minutes, after which you can return home. You should rest for the remainder of the day, but can usually resume your normal activities the day after the procedure. Naturally, if you are currently taking medications to control your pain, you should discuss with your doctor whether they should be taken the day of the procedure.

Getting the best interventional radiology care possible

Managing pain is a critical part of providing modern medical care. Whether your pain is temporary (the result of a disease being treated) or chronic (more long-term), there are minimally-invasive treatments that can reduce it, and help you lead a more normal lifestyle. The interventional radiologists at MTVIR are specialists in delivering these state-of-the-art pain management methodologies, which is why so many doctors rely on MTVIR to help keep their patients pain-free.