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A spinal corticosteroid injection places corticosteroids into tissue around the spine. Corticosteroids are drugs that reduce painful swelling and irritation, called inflammation. They are injected into the back with a needle.
Reasons for Procedure
To diagnose whether a specific site in the spine is the cause of persistent pain or disability
To reduce pain caused by swelling or inflammation around the spine
Improve physical function for people with persistent
low back pain
Spinal injections are typically performed when persistent pain and disability are not relieved by:
Ice and heat therapies
Changes to the physical set-up of the work environment
—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
or other anti-inflammatory drugs
Blood thinners, such as
A local anesthetic and/or a sedative may be used. They may help to alleviate 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 medicine and a local anesthetic will be prepared. The needle will be injected through the skin and into a space near the spine. The doctor will likely use
imaging to guide placement of the needle. Contrast material may also be injected to confirm that the needle is in the right place. The medicine will be injected and the needle will be removed from your back. A small bandage may then be placed over the injection site.
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.
At the Care Center
You will spend time in a recovery area.
A healthcare professional will monitor your recovery.
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
Lightheadedness from low blood pressure
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.
Avoid baths, pools, and whirlpools for 24-48 hours.
Be sure to follow your doctor's
It will take a few days to a week for the medicine to reduce the inflammation and pain. You should be able to resume your regular daily activities the day after the procedure. You should be able to start exercising within one week.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.