Epidural Steroid Injections

Epidural steroid injection is used to treat pain associated with irritation and/or compression of a nerve root by a prolapsed disc or spinal canal stenosis. This pain generally radiates down the arm or leg.  If occurring in the leg, this pattern of pain is often referred to as sciatica.

Although the first line of treatment for radicular pain is pain relief and physiotherapy, sometimes significant pain persists. If no indications for surgery are identified, such as leg weakness, bladder or bowel disturbance, epidural steroid injection may be considered. This procedure can reduce the pain associated with ongoing nerve irritation.

This procedure is performed under the direction of an x-ray machine so that precise positioning can be obtained. A small volume of steroid (often referred to as cortisone) is then injected immediately adjacent to the affected nerve root and can significantly reduce pain.

There are a number of technical differences in the way that this procedure can be performed, but the underlying principal remains the same. The most common approach is injection close to the affected nerve root (often called nerve root or transforaminal injection). Another option is to inject at the base of the spine in a technique called caudal injection. Both of these techniques are performed as day procedures with the aid of x-ray equipment. As the steroid is mixed with local anaesthetic, immediate relief may be felt. Although this immediate relief is short lived, a slower improvement of symptoms may occur as the steroid works on the affected nerves.  Epidural steroid injection may be repeated to consolidate benefits and improve symptom control.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Northern Private Pain Centre can facilitate you obtaining a second opinion. Please discuss this with us.