Epidural Steroid Injections: A Few Minutes Can Change Your Life

So, you’re at the point where you say to yourself you’d give “anything” to relieve your lower back or radiating leg pain. How about 15-30 minutes of your time?

As a specialist in pain management, I’ve treated many patients with a common and effective procedure called Epidural Steroid Injections – also known as “ESIs” or simply “Epidurals.” It’s a non-surgical, non-invasive treatment that takes between 15 minutes and a half hour.

If you’re suffering from a condition such as a herniated disc, sciatica or spinal stenosis, your spinal nerves are inflamed due to narrowing of the epidural passages where the nerves travel as they pass down or out of your spine.

These sleeve-like passages surround the spinal sac and provide cushioning for the nerves and spinal cord. An Epidural Steroid Injection is a simple, safe and painless way to place a steroid-anesthetic medication into that epidural space, where it can have a very potent anti-inflammatory action that decreases pain and helps you function better.

I’ve found that this can be a highly effective treatment because it delivers the medication and pain relief directly to the source of the problem. Any painkilling medications or oral steroids you might be taking have a dispersed, less-focused impact and may bring undesirable side effects.

The Epidural Steroid Injection Process

So what happens during an ESI procedure at NJ Pain Care Specialists?

  • Before you begin, you can request a mild sedative to relieve any anxiety and feel more relaxed, but a majority of patients do fine without it
  • You lie flat on an x-ray table on your abdomen and your skin is numbed with a local anesthetic
  • Either myself or an another experienced pain management physician carefully guides a thin needle into the open space where the irritated nerve roots are located
  • A contrast agent is injected and a fluoroscope live x-ray device confirms that the tip of the needle is positioned properly
  • A steroid/anesthetic medication is then injected to bathe the irritated nerve roots. It is believed the injection also has a flushing effect that helps remove or “flush out” inflammatory proteins from around structures that might be causing pain
  • After a short recovery period, you’ll be sent home to take it easy for the rest of the day before returning to work or other activities the following morning
  • To be clear, steroids will not change the underlying condition that causes your discomfort. However, you may feel significant relief after just a single procedure. Importantly, it can break the cycle of pain and inflammation and allow you to undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation, to exercise, and to heal. So, ultimately, the injections can provide benefits that outlast the effects of the steroid itself.

Epidural Steroid Injections were first administered in the 1950s and they have been vastly improved over the decades. If you’re willing to give us 15-30 minutes of your time, we can help give you your life back.