The epidural injection delivers a dose of steroids and anesthetic into the epidural space in the spine. This results in very potent anti-inflammatory action that will provide relief for back and leg pain. It will not cure the underlying cause of the pain but will break the inflammation and pain cycle.
After your injections, you may feel relief in one to three days but sometimes it can take a week to feel the benefits. In general, most people can tolerate the steroid injection very well. Some people may experience more than usual pain that will subside, temporary bruising, flushing of the face for an hour or two, minor anxiety, and trouble sleeping. All of these should disappear in a few days and are not permanent.
Each injection will usually provide two to three weeks of relief. In cases of acute injuries like whiplash, this can be enough time for the body to begin healing itself. With chronic conditions, multiple injections may be needed to provide more long-term relief.
You will lie on your belly during the procedure so the doctor can access your back. The steroids are injected into the epidural layer of the spine in the area that is currently affected by a painful condition. Because of negative pressure in the space around the spine, the medication stays in the area of the injection to provide pain relief.
Steroid injections can be performed at any part of the spine. Common injection points include:
- The cervical spine – Your neck is composed of the top seven vertebrae of your spine.
- The lumbar spine – These vertebrae are associated with lower back and leg pain.
- Transforaminal injections – In some cases, painful symptoms are only experienced on one side. This often involves pain that radiates down one leg or one arm. Injections can be targeted to one side to provide relief.