What is an Epidural Injection?
An epidural is an injection into the epidural space. There is space between the vertebrae (backbones) which form the walls of the spinal canal and the spinal cord and the nerves that lie within it.
Epidural injections are widely used in the treatment of chronic neck, back, and leg pain. The injection can be performed at any level within the spine.
How will it help?
An epidural injection may help to reduce the inflammation and pain, but cannot be guaranteed in all cases. If your chronic pain is caused by inflammation, the local anaesthetic will numb the pain, which will give short-term pain relief.
The steroids will reduce any inflammation around the nerves entering and leaving the spinal cord, giving a longer term effect. The pain may be relieved for a few weeks or a few months, and sometimes longer.
An epidural injection is carried out as a day case procedure. You will be discharged home one to two hours after your injection. You must not drive for 24 hours following the procedure, so please arrange for someone to drive you home. It is also strongly recommended that you have someone who can stay at home with you until the following day.
Possible Side Effects
There are possible side effects. For example:
- There may be some pain and bruising at the needle site.
- The injection may make your pain worse for a few days.
- Some patients experience a severe headache following an epidural, although this is rare, but it may last a week or two.
- There is a small risk of infection at the site of the injection.
- Your blood pressure can drop during or shortly after the epidural.
- Some patients may experience difficulty passing urine, you will therefore have to pass urine before you can be discharged home.
- You may experience some leg weakness or numbness, which should resolve over a few hours.
- People with diabetes may experience raised blood sugar for a short while due to the injection of the steroid.
- On rare occasions some women may experience temporary irregularities with their menstrual cycle.