What to Expect During an Epidural Injection

The different types of medications injected into the epidural space create different effects. Corticosteroids act like an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing swelling and nerve irritation to allow the nerve time to heal itself, thereby preventing further discomfort. By delivering an injection directly into the epidural space, the medication moves throughout the epidural space, coating the nerve roots. 

Alumbar injection could affect the lower back and the nerves traveling to the lower limbs, such as the sciatic nerves. Similarly, if an epidural injection is performed in the neck, it should spread throughout the cervical epidural space and provide relief to nerve roots in the neck.

Oftentimes the results of the epidural injection may not be long lasting. A patient may experience relief for a matter of days up to several months, however, the pain may eventually return, requiring either another injection or an alternative treatment.

Other Factors

This procedure is often done on an outpatient basis.

An epidural injection usually takes only minutes to administer.

The doctor will identify where the injection should be given and will sterilize the skin with an antiseptic solution. He or she will then inject a local anesthetic to help numb the area before administering the epidural injection.

Once the area is numb, the doctor will most likely use imaging guidance to help guide the epidural needle to exactly the right position. When the needle is in place, a contrast material will be injected so the doctor can ensure the distribution of the medication given. Then, your doctor will slowly inject the medication, which is typically a combination of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory drugs (cortisone/steroids).

Limitations of Epidural Injection

Typically, the effects of an epidural injection are temporary and offer little to no long-term relief. Each individual is different, however. Sometimes the injection may be repeated after a number of weeks or months to receive maximum benefit from the medication. If the epidural injections do not help alleviate your pain, your doctor may recommend a different treatment.