What is an Epidural Steroid Injection?

A lumbar epidural steroid injection (ESI) is an injection that helps relieve pain caused by inflamed nerves in the lower back. ESIs can simply be used to treat pain, but they are also useful in diagnosing which specific nerves in your spine are causing problems.

  • ESIs are a set of 2-3 injections into the lumbar spine that can help reduce pain and strengthen the lower back.
  • ESIs are meant to control pain, not cure it. However, since a patient’s pain may decrease, their mobility will improve and their back could heal more quickly.
  • Dr. Ahuja performs the injections and the entire procedure only takes less than a minute.
  • After 2 injections, Dr. Ahuja sees patients back in his office to see how they’re feeling and to determine the next step in treatment.

What to Expect

Before the procedure, the patient’s lower back is cleaned and prepped by a nurse to make the process as quick and easy as possible when Dr. Ahuja comes in the room.

Dr. Ahuja gives a small shot of numbing medication right before the steroid injection.

As suggested by the name, Dr. Ahuja injects the steroid medication into the epidural space of the spine. The epidural layer surrounds the dura, which is a thin membrane that houses the spinal cord and cerebrospinal fluid.

If necessary, Dr. Ahuja will use a fluoroscope, an x-ray machine that displays live video, to guide him.

Typically the procedure is over very quickly.

Facet Injection

Dr. Ahuja also performs a similar type of steroid injection called a facet injection. The facets are joints on either side of the spine. Diseased facets can cause nerve irritation and pain.

There are two unique aspects to a facet injection: the steroid medication has to be directly injected into the joint, and the procedure is always done under fluoroscopy.

Don’t worry about deciding between an ESI and a facet injection; Dr. Ahuja will give you his recommendation on the best way to treat your pain.

After the Procedure

  • Following the injection, Dr. Ahuja makes sure the patient is feeling well enough to go home before leaving.
  • Don’t drive for the rest of the day.
  • Feel free to move around when you get home, but only do what you feel comfortable with.
  • It’s normal for the medicine to take a day or two to work; don’t worry if you don’t feel any improvement or even a slight worsening of your symptoms right away.
  • If you have any questions or feel like something isn’t right, please don’t hesitate to call our office.