Epidural Steroid Injection
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: Your doctor will give you an epidural steroid injection to reduce inflammation in your spine, reducing pain and allowing time for your condition to heal. The spine consists of bony vertebrae stacked one on the other, shock-absorbing intervertebral disks lying between the vertebrae, ligaments and muscles connecting the bones, and the spinal cord with its branching spinal nerves. The spinal cord is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid and surrounded by a protective membrane called the dura. Just outside this membrane is the epidural space. Each intervertebral disk consists of a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a spongy inner material called the nucleus pulposus. From aging or injury, the annulus fibrosus may weaken or degenerate. As a result, the disk may bulge into the surrounding neural and vascular structures, causing inflammation and pain. If the annulus completely breaks down, the nucleus may ooze through, causing a disk herniation. The resulting inflammation and swelling may irritate one of the spinal nerves nearby, resulting in a condition known as radiculopathy. Disk herniations in the lower or lumbar region of the back tend to produce shooting pain down the leg, a condition known as sciatica. If a disk herniates in the neck, the pain radiates into the arm. Another condition that can cause pain and inflammation in the area of the spinal nerves is osteoarthritis, which may cause excess bone growth at the joints of the spine, resulting in compression of the nearby spinal nerves. An epidural steroid injection is a minimally-invasive procedure. To begin, your doctor will numb the skin on your back with a local anesthetic. Using an x-ray image for guidance, your doctor will insert a needle between the bones and through the ligaments of your spine until it reaches the epidural space at the level of the inflammation. Once the needle has been inserted into the epidural space, your doctor will inject a steroid solution. After your procedure, you may apply ice to the injection area for pain relief and take over-the-counter pain medications. You may be able to resume driving after 24 hours.