Spinal Corticosteroid Injection
(Spinal Steroid Injection; Epidural Steroid Injection)
by Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS
A spinal corticosteroid injection is a needle injection in the back used to relieve pain or inflammation. Corticosteroids are injected into the epidural space around the spinal nerve roots of the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar portion of the spine, depending on the area that being treated.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
The procedure is done to:
Spinal injections are typically done when pain is not relieved by:
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect TOP
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.
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 TOP
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.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
The procedure will take less than 1 hour. The entire visit takes about 2-3 hours.
Will It Hurt? TOP
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 TOP
At the Care Center
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
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 1 week.
Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occur TOP
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Know Your Back—North American Spine Society
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Boswell MV, Trescot AM, Sukdeb D, et al. Interventional techniques: evidence-based practice guidelines in the management of chronic spinal pain. Pain Physician. 2007;10(1):7-111.
Epidural steroid injection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated September 5, 2016. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Epidural steroid injections. Know Your Back—North American Spine Society website. Available at: https://www.spine.org/KnowYourBack/Treatments/InjectionTreatmentsforSpinalPain/EpiduralSteroidInjections.aspx. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Epidural steroid injections: Pros and cons. North Shore Pain Management website. Available at: https://nspaincare.com/blog-170925-epidural-steroid-injections.html. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Spine injection. Massachusetts General Hospital website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed December 18, 2017.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 11/1/2016
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
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.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.