Epidural Steroid Injection

An epidural steroid injection is an administration of medications, through a needle into the epidural space.

The medications frequently used are a combination of a local anesthetic or numbing medicine, such as lidocaine and a steroid, which is a strong anti-inflammatory medicine.

Why do we do epidural steroid injections?

Your child's doctor has determined that there is a nerve irritation and swelling causing his / her back or leg pain. The irritation and swelling can be caused by a problem such as a bulging disk or the chemical substances released from the injured disc or arthritis.

What is the purpose of the epidural steroid injection?

The epidural steroid injection will decrease nerve irritation and swelling. The doctor will inject the medication at the level of the back where the problem is located.

When will the medication begin to work?

We often use local anesthetics to confirm placement of the steroid medication in the area that causes your child pain. The local anesthetic usually works quickly but only lasts a short time. It's similar to the numbing effect following a dental procedure. Your child may not notice the pain relief from the steroid until about 48 hours after the procedure. It takes longer for the medication to begin to work; however, it lasts longer than the local anesthetic.

How many injections will your child need?

Most children need one to three injections. These are usually done in 2 week intervals. You and your child's physician will decide the best plan for him / her. The total amount of steroid medicine is monitored and kept to a minimum to help avoid side effects.

  1. A nurse will call you several days before the procedure to review your child's procedure and give specific instructions.
  2. You and your child will check in at the Radiology Department on the 1st floor of the B building or the Same Day Surgery unit on the 3rd floor of the B building, as instructed.
  3. You and your child will be escorted to a procedure room and your child will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  4. Most patients usually lie on their stomach.
  5. Your child's skin will be cleaned with special cleaning solution and the local anesthetic (numbing medicine) will be placed using a tiny needle.
  6. X-rays are frequently used to guide the needle into position and the steroid medication is injected. X-ray dye may also used to observe the medication spread.
  7. After the medication is injected, your child will be permitted to roll on his / her back and be brought to the pre-procedure room.
  8. Your child will be discharged with follow-up instructions given.

There are several possible complications; however the risk is extremely low. These include, but are not limited to, infection, bleeding, nerve damage and headache.

Your child's pain may get worse for the first couple of days. His / her doctor may order a small amount of pain medication for the first 2 days until the steroid medicine begins to work. This occurs because placing a needle into an irritated area causes increased irritation. After the steroids begin to work (approximately 2 days) your child's pain should improve. Approximately 3 days after the injection an advance practice registered nurse will call to see how your child is doing. You may also call 513-636-7768 with questions or concerns. 

Your child should not participate in contact sports until advised by his / her doctor.

  • Fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Red or swollen injection site

Last Updated 12/2013