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Spinal Corticosteroid Injection

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by LaRusso L

(Spinal Steroid Injection; Epidural Steroid Injection)


Reasons for Procedure

The procedure is done to:
Spinal injections are typically done when pain is not relieved by:
  • Rest
  • Ice and heat therapies
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Back exercises
  • Changes to the physical set-up of the work environment
  • Changes to physical activities, including work
  • Spinal manipulation

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

You may have the following done before the procedure:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Blood thinners


A local anesthetic and/or a sedative may be used. They may help to reduce pain and anxiety . You will be awake for the procedure.

Description of the Procedure

You will lie on your side on an x-ray table. The skin on your back will be washed with a sterile solution. A syringe containing corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic will be injected through the skin and into a space near the spine. X-ray imaging will be used to guide the placement of the needle. Contrast material may also be injected to confirm that the needle is in the right place. The medication will be injected and the needle will be removed from your back. A small bandage may then be placed over the injection site.
Corticosteroid Injection
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How Long Will It Take?

The procedure will take less than one hour. The entire visit takes about 2-3 hours.

Will It Hurt?

The injection of the local anesthetic may burn or sting for a few seconds. After that, you should not feel pain during the procedure.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center
  • You will spend time in a recovery area where your recovery will be monitored.
  • Because you were sedated during the procedure, you will need someone to drive you home.
  • Potential temporary side effects include:
    • Brief period of increased pain
    • Headaches
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Facial flushing
    • Hiccups
    • Lightheadedness from low blood pressure
At Home
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
  • Rest on the day of the procedure.
  • Apply ice packs for soreness at the injection site.
  • Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .
It will take a few days to a week for the medication to reduce the inflammation and pain. You should be able to resume your regular activities the day after the procedure. You should be able to start exercising within one week.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Association of Neurological Surgeons



Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

Health Canada



Epidural steroid injections. KnowYourBack website. Available at: Published July 17, 2009. Accessed November 25, 2013.

Lumbar epidural steroid injections. Beverly Pain Management website. Available at: Accessed November 25, 2013.

Manchikanti L, Staats PS, Singh V, et al. Evidence-based practice guidelines for interventional techniques in the management of chronic spinal pain. Pain Phys. 2003;6:3-81.


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