Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are a standard treatment option for many forms of leg and lower back pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves. It is called an epidural steroid injection because it involves injecting a mixture of local anesthetic and steroid medication directly into the epidural space, providing strong anti-inflammatory effects and significant pain relief.
Top benefits of epidural steroid injections include:
Epidural steroid injections include both a corticosteroid and an anesthetic numbing agent. To begin, the physician will identify where the injection should be given. Next, a local anesthetic is injected to help numb the area before moving forward with the epidural injection. Finally, the medication is delivered into the epidural space of the spine. The goal is to inject the medication as close to the painful nerve as possible. The entire procedure lasts about 20-30 minutes, followed by a brief recovery period.
Epidural injections are typically used to treat conditions that cause irritation or inflammation of the spinal nerve roots, leading to leg and lower back pain. In most cases, patients are recommended to undergo a series of nonsurgical treatments, such as medication and physical therapy, before injections or other surgical procedures are considered. The primary goal of epidural steroid injections is to provide sufficient pain relief to allow patients to return to normal activities and continue making progress in physical therapy. Patients who suffer from any of the following conditions are considered ideal candidates for epidural injections:
Most patients can walk immediately after the procedure. However, temporary leg weakness or numbness is possible. For this reason, you should have a trusted friend or family member drive you home. Soreness at the injection site is also relatively common and can be relieved using ice and a mild analgesic, like Tylenol. Typically, patients may resume full activity by the next day.
About 70-90% of patients experience pain relief after treatment lasting anywhere from a week up to a year. The effects of the steroid usually become apparent within 1 to 3 days, but some people might need up to a week before they feel a difference.
Epidural steroid injections may also be used to delay or even eliminate the need for surgery or other, more invasive treatments. If the procedure proves successful, up to three injections may be given over 12 months to maintain results.