The epidural space is the area surrounding the spinal cord and the nerves coming out of it. An epidural steroid injection is injected into this area to distribute long-lasting medication, like cortisone. The epidural reduces inflammation, pain, tingling, and numbness around the nerves in the epidural space. It only takes a few minutes to administer the injection, but getting a comfortable position set-up can take longer.
The epidural injection involves the use of steroid medication and a small amount of local anesthetic like Novocain. As it’s administered, you can experience a small sting from the Novocain, and then deeper pressure when the needle proceeds into the muscles of the back to reach the target. Most patients have reported seeing only a small amount of pain during the procedure. The goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible during the procedure.
Patients should rest the remainder of the day. After the procedure, it is common to feel some numbness and weakness. It is also possible to have minor soreness at the injection site. These symptoms will fade with time and can be controlled with using ice and pain medications. Most patients have a noticeable improvement in their pain within the first few days after receiving the injection. However, it is not uncommon for pain relief to start about a week after the injection. The effects of the medication will differ from person to person since everybody responds differently to the injection. You can expect it to last from a few days to as many as three or four months. Usually, one to three epidural injections are done, depending on how well you do after each one. To help you maintain the benefits of the injection, using a well-rounded exercise program, stretching, and weight reduction will help you achieve best results.