What is a cervical epidural steroid injection?
A cervical epidural steroid injection is an outpatient procedure for treating neck, upper back, shoulder, and arm pain. This information has been provided by your doctor so you can better understand this procedure. Your doctor will make the best recommendation for your specific needs.
During this procedure, a corticosteroid (anti-inflammatory medicine) is injected into the epidural space to reduce inflammation and pain. Your physician may inject into the epidural space from behind; this is called an interlaminar injection. When your physician goes in from the side, it is called a transforaminal injection. If the needle is positioned next to an individual nerve root, it is called a selective nerve root block.
What happens during an injection?
An IV will be inserted to administer intravenous medication(s) to help you relax. A local anesthetic will be used to numb your skin.
Fluoroscopy, a type of x-ray, will be used to ensure the safe and proper position of the needle. A contrast dye will also be injected to make sure the needle is in the correct spot.
Once your physician is sure the needle is correctly placed, the medicine will be injected.
Your pain may become a little worse for a day or two. This is normal. It may be caused by needle irritation or by the steroid itself. Steroids usually take two or three days to start working, but can take as long as a week.
You should be able to return to work the day after the injection, but always check with your doctor.
How long can I expect pain relief?
The amount and duration of pain relief varies from person to person and is dependent on many factors including underlying pathology and activity level. Some can have relief that lasts for years, while others have short-term relief.
Usually a series of cervical epidural steroid injections, often three, each spaced a week or two apart, are given. It is important to discuss with your physician your response to epidural steroids in order to plan future treatment options.