An Epidural Steroid Injection may be worth considering if you have been suffering from severe arm or leg pain that is stemming from your neck or back. Epidural steroid injections are typically used to treat pain resulting from an inflamed nerve root.
The term ‘Epidural Steroid Injection’ describes an injection technique of delivering steroid medication around a nerve root which branches out from the spinal cord. Spinal nerves exit through a small hole called the foramen to allow nerves to travel to specific places in the arms and legs. When this foramen, or hole, is narrowed it can cause symptoms as the nerve has less space to exist without being pinched. The narrowed space causes increased pressure and inflammation around the nerve causing arm or leg pain. Nerves are responsible for pain, tingling or numbness, and strength so you may experience several symptoms. Symptoms usually include shooting, burning, electric-like pain in the affected extremity sometimes associated with numbness, tingling and weakness along the course of the inflamed nerve root. Sciatica is experienced as an intense aching or burning pain felt along the sciatic nerve in the leg when the sciatic nerve is pinched or injured. The inflamed nerve root can stem from multiple sources including a disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, bone spurs and spinal stenosis.
Epidural injections can be performed from several different approaches; these include a caudal, interlaminar, or transforaminal approach. The approach your provider chooses is based on each individual patient’s clinical presentation, the personal preference and experience of the provider performing the injection, the desired outcome, and most importantly, the risks versus benefits of performing one type of epidural over another. Clinically, the purpose of all epidural injections is to place a mixture of steroid and local anesthetic at the source of the problem to decrease inflammation causing pain, and to promote healing and clinical improvement. The epidural steroid injection involves placing steroid medication in the inflamed area and significantly reduces nerve irritation thus improving pain. This treatment option has the potential to completely resolve pain and ultimately may prevent operative treatment.