The team at Kuether Brain and Spine is always looking to expand its offering of services to help our patients live their healthiest and best lives. We’re excited to share that we now offer epidural steroid injections. Like any medical procedure, epidural steroid injections are used as treatment for specific diagnosis and include some risks.

To begin, an epidural steroid injection is a common form of treatment for inflammation associated with low-back related leg pain and/or neck related arm pain. When spinal nerves become inflamed, the nerve passage is narrow making it more difficult for nerves to travel down or out of the spine, triggering pain felt in other limbs. This kind of inflammation can be caused by “disc herniations, bone spurs, thickening of the ligaments in the spine, joint cysts, or even abnormal alignment of the vertebrae.” With an epidural steroid injection, cortisone steroid is injected into the “epidural space, which is a layer of protective fat that surrounds the spinal sac, providing cushioning for the nerves and spinal cord.”

Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory; an injection into the epidural space of the targeted area of the spine usually results in a decrease in pain and/or improved mobility/function. Epidural steroid injections are not a cure for the cause behind a patient’s back, neck and limb pain, but it does provide some temporary relief and allows the body a better to chance to heal due to the decreased inflammation.

There are three epidural steroid injection approaches: interlaminar, caudal, and transforaminal. All three require the surgeon  to insert a thin needle into position using x-ray guidance. To help locate the exact point of injection, a medical professional will likely use contrast dye to identify the area in need; patients also usually receive some form of local anesthetic to minimize the procedure’s pain. Given all three approaches only require needle injections and not open surgical incisions, the recovery process is relatively quick. After an injection is completed, the full results usually take 3-7 days to fully kick in.

As mentioned, any form of procedure has risks. With all epidural steroid injections, there is a risk of infection since a needle is entering the body. Some patients also experience side-effects such as “anxiety, trouble sleeping, changes in menstrual cycle, temporary water retention or steroid flush, the feeling of a flushed face and chest that can last several days and can be accompanied by a feeling of warmth or even a low grade increase in temperature.” Other more rare and serious complications can include “allergic reaction, wet-tap or dural puncture, bleeding, infection, nerve damage, or paralysis.” Most epidural steroid injections are completed seamlessly without complications or side-effects and with an experienced surgeon like Dr. Kuether navigating the procedure, many of these complications are decreased.

Overall, epidural steroid injections can be an effective, supplementary treatment option for those patients suffering with neck, back and limb pain. When the injections are paired with other prescribed medications, physical therapy and a healthy lifestyle, most patients are able to fully maximize the benefits and improve their quality of life.

If you have questions about if an epidural steroid injection is right for you, schedule an appointment with the Kuether Brain & Spine team. Dr. Todd Kuether and his team will work to find the right treatment for each individual patient.