Epidural Steroid Injection
An epidural steroid injection is a procedure commonly performed to treat irritation of the spinal nerve. The nerve root is most commonly irritated by a damaged disc or possibly bone spur. The nerve root is covered by the dura, which in turn is surrounded and protected by the epidural space. An epidural injection places medication in the form of a corticosteroid and a local anesthetic in this space in an attempt to relieve the painful inflammation. The local anesthetic provides temporary relief, and the steroid can begin to take effect over the next 3 to 5 days and can last between several days and several months. The injection also serves to help eliminate chemicals and inflammatory proteins in the epidural space that can further aggravate the pain. This procedure is performed under x-ray guidance for excellent visualization of the epidural space. Epidural steroid injections can be used in conjunction with medication management in the form of opiates, muscle relaxants and/or anti-inflammatory medications. Often injections are performed in an attempt to obviate or delay surgery. Physical therapy is also an important adjunct to these interventional procedures, and the injections can allow patients to participate more fully in a rehabilitation program with less pain. Epidural steroid injections are beneficial in the treatment of pain caused by sciatica, degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, spinal stenosis and spondylolysis.