An epidural steroid injection is one of the many non-surgical treatment options for back pain relief available from our trained medical experts at Texas Comprehensive Spine Center. This minimally-invasive technique reduces inflammation around the injured nerve or disc resulting in decreased pain. While the effects of the injection tend to be temporary (anywhere from one week to a year), it can provide sufficient pain relief allowing a patient to progress with a rehabilitative stretching and exercise program – increasing speed of recovery.

What It Is:

An epidural steroid injection is the delivery of a powerful anti-inflammatory steroid medication, similar to cortisone, directly into the epidural space – a space outside the sac of fluid around the spinal cord.  This is not the same as an epidural anesthesia given prior to childbirth. 

The main purpose of a steroid injection includes decreasing pain and increasing the movement of the affected joints. Since steroid tablets can cause serious side effects, Neurosurgeons recommend steroid injections over tablets. Local steroid injections help reduce inflammation and pain in a localized area. Specialists can also use this type of injection in the case of soft tissue inflammation, such as:

  • Bursitis, prepatellar bursitis, olecranon bursitis

  • Tennis elbow

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Plantar fasciitis

  • Rotator cuff injuries

  • Abnormal nerve growth or neuroma


Additionally, spinal specialists use corticosteroid injections to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Arthritis

  • Disc problems

  • Sciatica

  • Joint pain

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • Several autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis (MS), etc.

What To Expect:

The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and, on occasion, with intravenous sedation, to help the patient relax. The most common technique for epidural steroid injection uses X-Ray guidance (fluoroscopy), using real-time imagery to guide the needle to the correct spot.  Once the steroid medication is injected, the patient may notice some reduction in pain. However, once the anesthetic wears off, the pain will return as it was before the procedure.  Patients typically begin experiencing pain relief within 3 – 5 days after the epidural injection.  Relief can last months, and depending on the patient and the extent of the injury, can last for over a year.

The procedure takes 5-10 minutes and is followed by a brief observed recovery time before discharge. If a sedative was used, the patient must arrange to have someone else drive them home.