Most people associate an epidural with pregnant women during childbirth, where a catheter is placed and medicine is infused into the spinal canal to minimize labor pain. Epidural steroid injections involve placement of a small volume of local anesthetic and steroid, an anti-inflammatory medication, at a specific area of the spine where patients commonly feel pain. Often times, nerves within the spine are compressed from conditions that include spinal stenosis and disc herniation, and these irritated nerves are targeted in this procedure. Epidural steroid injections provide long-lasting relief for most types of axial and radicular type spine pain.
More specifically, the procedure involves the insertion of a small needle into the spinal epidural space under x-ray guidance. A small amount of contrast dye is injected through the needle to visualize medication spread followed by injection of the anti-inflammatory medication used to alleviate pain.
Epidural steroid injections are minimally invasive, safe and effective, and they involve virtually no downtime. Patients are able to resume normal activities within 24 hours following the procedure.