The cervical spine is the part of the spine located in the neck. The spinal cord sits inside a tunnel created by the bones that make up the spine. It is also protected by a soft layer of tissue called the dura. The epidural space is the area between the tunnel and the dura layer of the spinal cord.
An epidural injection delivers medicine into the epidural space. The medicine may be an anesthetic to numb pain and a steroid to ease swelling and irritation.
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This procedure is done to ease:
The injection may provide relief for up to two months. It may also help manage these problems until the reason for the pain or swelling has healed.
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:
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
You will be awake. The doctor may give:
You will be asked to lie on your stomach or side on an x-ray table or sit in a chair. Contrast material will be injected. It will help highlight the area on an x-ray to help guide the needle. The steroid will be injected when the doctor has reached the epidural space. A bandage will be placed over the area.
The injection only takes a few minutes. The entire procedure may be 30 to 60 minutes.
You may have some soreness at the injection site. It will go away in about a day.
The care team will monitor you for any changes.
Physical activity will be limited for the first day or two. You can slowly return to normal activities.
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.
American Chronic Pain Association
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Cervical epidural. University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Department of Radiology website. Available at: https://radiology.wisc.edu/documents/cervical-epidural. Accessed July 19, 2021.
Cervical radicular pain and radiculopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cervical-radicular-pain-and-radiculopathy. Accessed July 19, 2021.
Cervical radiculopathy: Non-operative treatments and cervical epidural steroid injection. Hospital for Special Surgery website. Available at: https://www.hss.edu/conditions_cervical-radiculopathy-nonoperative-treatments-epidural.asp. Accessed July 19, 2021.
Epidermal injections. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/epidural. Accessed July 19, 2021.
Epidural steroid injection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/epidural-steroid-injection. Accessed July 19, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD