This Blog Covers:
- An epidural steroid injection is a minimally invasive procedure that reduces pain in patients suffering from inflammatory spinal conditions.
- Patients with neck, shoulder, arm, back, or leg pain from spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, herniated and degenerative discs, or sciatica may be candidates for this procedure.
- In this blog, the spine specialists at American Spine discuss what patients can expect during an epidural steroid injection, including side effects like weight gain.
Epidural steroid injections (ESI) are a common interventional pain care method for patients with painful and inflammatory spinal conditions. They are a popular choice for many reasons:
1) ESI’s are minimally invasive
2) ESI’s provide long-lasting pain relief (several weeks, months, or years)
3) ESI’s allow patients to resume full activity the day after the procedure
What to Expect During an Epidural Steroid Injection
Many patients wonder what happens during a procedure like this. Well, it’s a fairly simple operation. During the procedure, patients are given a sedative to lessen anxiety and discomfort. A local anesthetic will also be administered to numb the injection site. Once both have taken effect, a physician will use an x-ray device called a fluoroscope to direct a hollow needle through the skin and into the epidural space.
With the needle in the correct location, the steroid medication, which is usually an anesthetic and corticosteroid mixture, is delivered to the inflamed nerve roots in the spine. Most patients experience increased pressure and mild discomfort, but that typically goes away after the medication has been injected. Technically, there are three different ways to administer an epidural steroid injection. There is the translaminar, transforaminal, and caudal approaches. Nevertheless, most procedures are conducted in a similar fashion.
Risks and Complications
Like with any procedure, epidural steroid injections carry some risks. Although rare, it is possible for patients to experience an allergic reaction, bleeding, infection, or dural puncture. Because these injections contain corticosteroids, it is also common for patients to gain weight. Prednisone is a corticosteroid that causes weight gain and redistribution of body fat in undesirable areas such as the face, back of the neck, and abdomen.
For some patients, a buffalo hump will develop on the back of the neck, which is the accumulation of fat in this area. Other times, supraclavicular “fat pads” will develop around the back of the neck above the collarbone. This may cause concern for patients who think this side effect is inflammation of the lymph nodes. Fortunately, both symptoms are nothing to worry about and both should subside when the dosage is either changed or lowered.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and you feel they are bothersome, call American Spine today to discuss changing your course of treatment.
At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246).
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.