What is an ESI?
An epidural steroid injection is a pain management option for people with low back, leg, arm, and neck pain. The injection involves a minimally invasive procedure where a steroid, combined with a numbing agent, is administered into the epidural space of the spine. Depending on the patient’s area of pain, the injection is positioned at a specific level of the spine and side of the body to directly target the affected nerve roots. The injection works to decrease inflammation and pain, as to hopefully improve function for the patient. Most individuals begin to feel relief after only a few days that may last anywhere from a few weeks to several years after the procedure.
Who qualifies to get an ESI?
Epidural steroid injections are helpful to people who have painful inflammatory conditions. Some of these conditions may include; Sciatica, Degenerative Disc Disease, Herniated Disc, and Spinal Stenosis. The injection is an interventional method that can be used to determine whether surgery may or may not be necessary for one of these conditions. Often times the relief provided by an ESI gives patients the ability to work on improving their condition through resources such as physical therapy that may have been too painful before.
Patients considering an ESI should consult with their doctor prior, to ensure this is a safe option for them. The injection can cause a spike in blood-sugar levels for those with diabetes and individuals taking blood-thinners will be asked to stop taking this medication a few days before the procedure.
What to expect from the procedure:
The ESI is an outpatient procedure that can be performed in 15-45 minutes. The patient is awake during this time in order to provide feedback to the physician, although they may be provided mild sedation and a local anesthetic. If any sedation is used, the patient should bring a driver with them the day of the procedure.
The next day normal activity may be resumed but individuals should expect a little soreness and swelling around the injection site. A follow-up appointment will need to be scheduled to discuss with the doctor the effectiveness of the injection and any other concerns you may have.