An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a non-operative treatment technique used for neck, back or pain that may be referred down the arms or legs. Commonly, this type of pain is caused by pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. Based on your pain experience, clinical examination and imaging, the provider can isolate the exact levels for treatment.
The ESI is performed at an outpatient medical clinic using fluoroscopy (real time x-ray) to assure accuracy of needle placement and a contrast dye to verify medication distribution. There are three different approaches the provider can use to be more precise about treating your pain. He will chose the best option for you.
Prior to the procedure you may be offered a mild sedative, but it is not necessary. The needle tip is placed in the space around the spinal cord. The injection is typically a combination of an anesthetic (temporary pain medication) and a corticosteroid (medication for inflammation). Though the medication does not change the underlying condition (herniated disc, bone spurs, stenosis) the effect of the medication breaks the pain cycle and allows your body to compensate for the underlying condition. This is how you may receive benefit long after the medications have worn off. This is also why every patient’s response is different with regard to the amount and duration of relief.