Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection
Cervical epidural steroid injection procedures are injections that deliver anti-inflammatory medicine to inflamed/pinched spinal nerves within the cervical spine. These steroid injections can provide temporary or lasting relief of pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms. Spinal conditions such as a bulging disc or herniated discs, spinal stenosis or arthritis can irritate, compress and pinch nerves, causing pain, numbness, tingling and inflammation.
The goal of the cervical epidural steroid injection is two-fold, to provide therapeutic pain relief, and diagnostically confirm the affected spinal nerve. First, the injection can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the spinal nerves of the neck. Reducing the inflammation and swelling can significantly provide pain relief and reduce symptoms, so that patients may start their rehabilitation and cope with their daily routines. Second, steroid injections can be used diagnostically to pinpoint the affected spinal nerve. If the patient responds to the injection temporarily, but the pain returns in a few days or weeks, a secondary interventional procedure or spinal surgery can be offered to enhance the patient’s pain relief.
Are You A Candidate For A Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection?
Candidates for injection are usually patients that have exhausted conservative care and treatment options with no improvement of their pain or symptoms and have an MRI or nerve conduction studies that would indicate spinal nerve inflammation or compression. Cervical steroid injections most commonly treat the following spinal symptoms and conditions:
- Numbness or tingling in the hands, arms shoulders, and neck
- Sharp or dull pain in the neck, shoulder traveling into the arms and hand
- Herniated or bulging disc in the neck
- Degenerative disc disease
What Happens During The Cervical Epidural Injection Procedure?
The injection usually takes place in the physician’s clinic, surgery center, or in some cases in the hospital. Patients are asked to change into a hospital gown so that the physician has access to clean and easily visualize the injection site. The cervical epidural injection typically takes about 15-30 minutes and follows a standard protocol:
- The patient lies flat on an X-ray table with some pillows under their stomach
- Your skin on your neck is cleaned and then numbed with a local anesthetic.
- Under fluoroscopy (live X-ray), the physician safely guides a needle into your skin toward the spinal canal above your spinal cord.
- Once the needle is in the proper location, the epidural steroid medication is injected. Patients may sense some pressure as the medication is delivered. The pressure may be uncomfortable but generally not painful.
- After the injection, patients are monitored for about 20 minutes before being discharged home.
What Should I Expect After The Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection?
Expected results after a cervical epidural steroid injection vary with each individual and depend on the initial cause of the patient’s pain. A patient may feel immediate relief after the injection due to local anesthetic added to the steroid injection. Typically patients have optimal pain relief by 2-7 days post-injection.
How Long Will the Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection Last?
Pain relief from a cervical epidural steroid injection varies from person to person but can last up to one year after the procedure. The injection can decrease symptoms numbness, tingling, and pain in your shoulders and arms.