Epidural steroid injections
A common cause of chronic back pain is spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal column. This causes the epidural sleeve to shrink and put pressure on the spinal nerves that it’s supposed to protect.
Treatments for this condition vary depending on its severity or exact cause. If the pain is severe or persistent and not responding to other treatments, you may need an epidural steroid injection.
Epidural steroid injections introduce corticosteroids into the painful area of the epidural channel to reduce inflammation. This can decrease pain and help manage symptoms related to your condition.
Types of epidural steroid injectionsThere are four different types of epidural steroid injections depending on where your pain is located:
- Cervical — The cervical portion of the spine is located in your neck. Generally, spine specialists administer cervical injections through the side of the neck to avoid penetrating the throat or too many muscles and soft tissue. An injection into the neck can help reduce arm pain as well as neck pain.
- Lumbar — If your pain is located in your lower back or leg, the spinal specialist will inject steroids into the lumbar section of the spine (the lower back). Spinal specialists approach this section from the back to gain immediate access to the spine.
- Thoracic — The thoracic portion of the spine includes your upper back below the neck. Epidural injections in the thoracic portion of the spine are less common, but they are occasionally used for pain in this area.
- Caudal — The caudal portion of the spine is your tailbone. If the pain is in your tailbone, a spine specialist may insert the needle in the tiny space above the tailbone to reach the nerves in this area.
Are epidural steroid injections safe?Epidural steroid injections are minimally invasive. No incisions are required, so there is little risk for blood loss or infection. However, although rare, some complications can occur. Possible complications may include:
- Allergic reaction
- Blood loss
- Nerve damage