Spinal Corticosteroid Injection
(Spinal Steroid Injection; Epidural Steroid Injection)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A spinal corticosteroid injection puts steroid medicine in the epidural space around the spinal cord.
Reasons for Procedure
The procedure is done to:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give local anesthesia. The area will be numbed.
Description of the Procedure
You will lie on your side on an x-ray table. The doctor may inject a contrast dye. X-ray imaging will be used to guide the placement of the needle in the epidural space. The medicine will be injected. The needle will be removed. A small bandage may be placed over the site.
How Long Will It Take?
About 1 hour
Will It Hurt?
Pain is common at the injection site. It may last several hours. Medicine and home care can help.
It will take a few hours for the injection site discomfort to go away. It will take a few days to a week for the medicine to ease pain and swelling. You should be able to go back to regular activities the day after the procedure.
Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occur
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help 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
Epidural steroid injection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/epidural-steroid-injection. Accessed September 30, 2020.
Epidural steroid injections. Know Your Back—North American Spine Society website. Available at: https://www.spine.org/KnowYourBack/Treatments/InjectionTreatmentsforSpinalPain/EpiduralSteroidInjections.aspx. Accessed September 30, 2020.
Goertz M, Thorson D, et al; Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI). Adult acute and subacute low back pain. ICSI 2012 Nov.
Spine injection. Massachusetts General Hospital website. Available at:
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Accessed September 30, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 6/9/2021