In the simplest of terms, an epidural corticosteroid (steroid) injection is a way to deliver pain medication quickly into the body with a syringe.
The medication is injected into the epidural area. This is a fat-filled area that covers the spinal cord to protect it and the surrounding nerves from damage.
Sometimes pain relief is short term. Other times the benefits continue for some time.
If you have intense, difficult-to-treat pain in your legs or arms from inflamed spinal nerves, then an epidural steroid injection might give you quick relief. Often, nerve passages from the spine to your arms or legs become narrowed, causing this pain. This narrowing can cause inflammation of the spinal nerves.
A number of conditions may add to this narrowing, including:
Injected steroids reduce inflammation and opens up these passages to provides pain relief.
An epidural steroid injection generally causes no problems. If you do have side effects, they may include:
Serious complications are rare but can include:
Based on your medical condition, your doctor may request other specific steps.
An epidural steroid injection is a simple procedure:
Once the procedure is done, you can return home. Usually, you'll be able to return to normal activities on the next day. The steroids usually begin working within 1 to 3 days, but in some cases, you might need up to a week to feel the benefits.
Many people get several months of improvement of pain and function from the injections. If the injection is effective, it can be repeated. If you have any side effects, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.
If you don't have pain relief, talk with your doctor. This may be a sign that the pain is coming from some place other than the spinal nerves.
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