Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection

The cervical epidural steroid injection is an injection designed to relieve pain by reducing inflammation around the nerves in the neck. This procedure is minimally invasive, causes few side effects and can effectively relieve chronic pain caused by a variety of conditions.

When is it Necessary?

Cervical epidural steroid injections can be effective in treating patients with pain in the neck, head and arms that results from compressed nerves. This procedure is often recommended when more conservative treatment methods, such as ice, rest, physical therapy or oral medications, are ineffective in relieving pain. Examples of conditions that may warrant a cervical epidural steroid injection include herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and any other condition that causes nerve compression.

How Does it Work?

Nerves are often compressed because of inflammation in the epidural space, which is the space between the vertebral discs that surrounds the spinal cord and nerves. When a physician performs a cervical epidural steroid injection, he or she injects steroid medication into the inflamed area. The medication reduces the inflammation and relieves the pressure on the nerve. After the pressure on the nerve has been reduced or eliminated, the pain subsides.

What to Expect

During the procedure, you may or may not be sedated with IV medication. In either case, local anesthetic will be applied to the area of the neck where the injection will occur. Using x-ray guidance, the physician carefully maneuvers a needle into the cervical epidural space. After the needle has been inserted, dye is injected into the epidural space to ensure that the needle is positioned correctly for maximum results. Finally, the physician injects the steroid medication into the space to relieve the inflammation and reduce pain.

This procedure is usually short and fairly simple. If you are not sedated during the procedure, you may feel some pressure in your legs during the injection. After the injection is complete, a bandaid will be applied and you will be taken to recovery until you are able to go home.

Tips for Patients

It’s best to bring a driver with you on the day of your procedure, especially if you will be sedated during the procedure. After the procedure is complete, try to spend the remainder of the day resting if possible. You may experience some soreness at your injection site after the anesthetic wears off, as well as increased pain in the first few days after your injection. Some patients also develop a mild rash.

For some patients, significant pain relief is achieved with only one cervical epidural steroid injection. However, for other patients, multiple procedures performed several weeks apart may be required before pain relief is evident.

Scheduling a Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection

A cervical epidural steroid injection can provide lasting pain relief to patients who have not responded to more conservative treatment methods. However, to find out if this procedure is appropriate for you, you must consult a physician.

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