Epidural Steroid Injection

Fluroscopy guided procedure with patient on surgical table.

Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection

Low back and leg pain can keep you from doing the things you love and enjoying life to the fullest. However, a lumbar epidural steroid injection can help address the inflammation behind your chronic pain to get you back to your everyday life.

At Cahaba Pain and Spine Care, our Board Certified Pain Physicians have performed thousands of lumbar epidural steroid injections, making them experts at helping patients living with chronic pain and delivering life-changing results.

So that you can determine if a lumbar epidural steroid injection is right for you, we’re answering all of your questions about the procedure, from how the procedure can help, to what to expect during and after your epidural.

What Is a Lumbar Epidural and How Can It Help Me?

A lumbar epidural is an injection of a steroid medication plus an anesthetic numbing agent into the epidural space of your lower spine. This space is the area between your bony vertebra and the protective sac that surrounds your spinal cord and nerves.

These spinal nerves travel from your low back to your buttocks and into your legs. Inflammation caused by a damaged or herniated disc or spinal stenosis can result in inflammation that irritates these nerves and cause pain at any point along their path.

The epidural injection is designed to reduce that inflammation to both relieve your pain and give your body the time it needs to heal. The relief you feel may last months or years or even be permanent and can allow you to resume normal activities, including receiving physical therapy to accelerate your healing process.

What Can I Expect During the Procedure?

Prior to your lumbar epidural, an IV will be started so that you can receive medications to relax you and keep you comfortable. You will then lie on an x-ray table that allows your doctor to position you for optimal visualization of your lumbar spine.

After the skin of your back is scrubbed with sterile soap, your doctor will numb your low back to minimize discomfort. Although this numbing medication does sting, the feeling only lasts for a few seconds and is well-tolerated by patients.

Once the numbing medicine takes effect, your doctor will use x-ray guidance to direct a small needle into your epidural space, where they will then inject dye to ensure proper positioning. Finally, the steroid and anesthetic medication that makes up your epidural is injected. You can expect to remain awake and aware throughout the procedure to provide feedback to your physician.

What Happens After My Epidural?

Following your epidural, you’ll be taken to the recovery area where you will spend 30 – 60 minutes. You will be closely monitored during this time and asked to record your level of relief on an evaluation sheet that you will continue to complete at home to keep track of your pain episodes.

Lumbar epidurals typically require a series of three, approximately two weeks apart, to achieve full effect and you may receive an appointment for a repeat block if your doctor believes it is indicated. Upon discharge, you will need to have someone available to drive you home since you may temporarily experience leg weakness or numbness.

What Are the Results?

Many patients experience pain relief benefits from their initial epidural. Should you only receive mild pain relief, one to two more injections may be performed.

Because the relief you achieve through your lumbar epidural can help you return to activity, injection are often used in conjunction physical therapy or a home exercise program to allow you to strengthen your back muscles and prevent future pain episodes.