Epidural injections are used to place local anesthetics and/or steroids directly near the source of pain and inflammation. The medication is injected in the epidural space of the spinal canal. Steroid medication is used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. A salt water (saline) solution may be added to flush chemicals that cause inflammation. Short or long acting anesthetic medications are used to relieve pain, such as that associated with shingles or cancer.
Epidural injections are short outpatient procedures that can be given at a surgery center, hospital, or your doctor’s clinic. You will wear a gown for the procedure. You will be positioned sitting up or lying down. Before you receive the epidural injection, the injection site on your back will be sterilized and numbed with an anesthetic. You may receive relaxation medicine before your procedure begins.
Your doctor will use a live X-ray image (fluoroscopy) to carefully insert and guide the needle to the epidural space. A contrast dye is used to confirm the needle placement. Next, the medication solution is delivered to the epidural space, and the needle is removed.
You will be monitored for several minutes before you can return home. Your doctor will instruct you on how to relieve temporary mild pain at the injection site. It is common to experience an initial slight increase in pain, followed by pain relief in a few days.