The epidural space is a space that exists in your spine within the spinal canal. This space sits between two planes of tissue: the sac of tissue that houses your spinal cord (dural sac) and the vertebral bones. The epidural space contains fat tissue along with blood vessels and nerve roots. Sometimes these nerves can be squeezed within the spinal canal, causing significant inflammation and pain.
Potential contributors to this include herniated discs into the epidural space, degeneration of the spinous structures such as the intervertebral disc and facet joints, or a narrowing of the spinal canal called spinal stenosis.
An epidural steroid injection can be used to diagnose and confirm the source of the pain as well as for therapeutic relief. Common conditions for which this procedure is used include disc herniations/radiculopathy, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, post-herpetic neuralgia, post-laminectomy syndrome and vertebral compression fractures.
Steroids can be injected into your epidural space via needle, with live x-ray guidance as necessary for accuracy and safety.
When this procedure is performed in the portion of the spine responsible for neck and arm pain, the procedure is called a cervical epidural steroid injection.
When it is performed in the portion of the spine that is causing mid-back, chest or abdominal wall pain, it is called a thoracic epidural steroid injection.
And when it is performed in the part of the spine causing lower back pain, the procedure is called a lumbar epidural steroid injection.
Similar to any other procedure or medication, there are potential risks (although very low) of infection, bleeding, allergic reaction, spinal headache, nerve damage and prolonged increases in pain. Your Center for Pain Management physicians will use x-ray guidance throughout the procedure as well as sterile techniques to significantly reduce these risks.