John D. Spears, D.O.

When spine surgery is an option,
The Missouri Spine Institute is the best option you have.

Frequently Asked Questions: Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections

1. What is a Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection? 

A lumbar epidural steroid injection is a procedure used used to treat symptoms caused from pressure on the nerves in the lumbar region of the spine. A steroid is injected into the affected area of the spine to temporarily numb the pain. If the initial injection is effective, you may have up to three in a six-month period.

2. What are the risks involved in the procedure?

There are slight risks involved with lumbar steroid injections including pain, bleeding, infection and nerve injury. A puncture of the sac around the nerves called the dura can cause a severe headache. These risks are small and can be minimized by x-ray image guidance, stopping blood thinning medications, and a sterile technique.

3. How long will the pain relief last?

Relief from the injection will vary depending on the type of spinal condition you have. You could experience weeks to months of relief.

4. When will I be able to return to work? 

It depends. Some patients are able to return immediately while some require more down time before resuming normal activity. Ask your doctor to assess your specific situation.

5. Can I be sedated during the injection?

In some instances, doctors will sedate the patient, however this isn’t common practice. Typically, patients tolerate the procedure well and a sedative isn’t required.

6. What about taking my prescriptions?

One to two weeks before your procedure, ask your doctor what medicines you should discontinue. If you are taking blood thinning medication or an anti-inflammatory, you may need to stop in preparation for the procedure.

7. Will I need to fast?

Many doctors will ask you to fast the morning of the injection.

8. What will happen before the procedure?

When you arrive, the staff will review your medical records and you will be asked to sign a consent form. After that, an IV may be placed.

9. What should I expect during the procedure?

You will be taken to a procedure area and will be asked to lie face down on the table. An x-ray machine will be close by to help the doctor locate the position of your spine.

Next, the doctor will drape your skin and numb the injection site with a small amount of local anesthetic. The x-ray will guide the needle to the correct location and then an injected dye will indicate if any nerves or small blood vessels are nearby.

Finally, a numbing medicine and the steroid will be injected into your spine. The doctor will remove the needle, cleanse the area and place a Band-Aid over the injection site.

10. Will I experience pain after the injection? 

Some patients experience pain at the injection site for a day or two. Other patients experience immediate back and leg relief due to the numbing medicine. Once the numbing medicine wears off, pain may be experienced for a short time until the steroid takes its full effect. This could take a week or more.

11. What activities should I avoid after the procedure? 

Many doctors advise against taking a bath, using a hot tub, swimming and smoking. You will need to adhere to your recommended exercise and physical therapy program and continue to take all medications prescribed by your doctor.

The answers to the questions above are indicative of a typical lumbar steroid injection procedure. For information regarding your specific situation, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.