How does the procedure work?
During the procedure, the patient lies face down, and local anesthesia is administered. Next, the pain management specialist inserts a needle into the epidural space and injects a contrast dye. A fluoroscope confirms accurate placement of the needle tip. The steroid-anesthetic mixture is injected next. Patients may need to undergo as many as three injections in order to experience the full benefit the medication can offer.
The different types of medications injected into the epidural space create different effects for patients. Corticosteroids act as anti-inflammatory agents, reducing swelling and nerve irritation to allow the nerve time to heal itself, thereby preventing further discomfort. The duration of improvement from the epidural injection varies. Some patients have permanent relief. In others, the effects may not last long. A patient may experience relief for a matter of days up to several months; however, the pain may eventually return, requiring either a series of injections or an alternative treatment.