Epidural steroid injections are a common treatment for neck and back pain. They may be given in the cervical, thoracic, lumbar or sacral regions of the spine. This type of injection deposits potent steroid and/or other medications in the epidural space of the spine which reduces inflammation and therefore manages pain symptoms. The epidural space contains nerves, blood vessels, and fat that surrounds the dura (a sac around the spinal cord).
These injections work by controlling and/or reducing the body’s inflammatory response from chemical and mechanical sources of pain such as a pinched nerve, herniated discs, or degenerated discs.
Prior to the injection, the patient is sterilely prepped and draped. The skin over the treatment site is cleansed and numbed by injecting a local anesthetic. Injections are guided under fluoroscopy (continuous x-ray imaging) and contrast is administered to confirm placement. Lastly, steroid is injected directly into the epidural space to deliver pain-relieving medication directly to the site of inflammation.
The effectiveness of epidural steroid injections typically improves when additional therapies, such as physical therapy and therapeutic exercises are used in a prescribed manner. The success of treatment also depends on the accuracy with which the medication is delivered to the pain source.