A Closer Look into Epidural Injections

Epidural injections are administered in the space around your spinal cord to relieve pain or inflammation. Doctors mostly use epidural injections to alleviate back pain but they can also ease leg and arm pain. Most epidural injections consist of steroids, anesthetics, and anti-inflammatory medications. Garen Gajian MD can use imaging guidance like fluoroscopy or computed tomography to ensure the needle targets the right location. Depending on your condition, epidural injections can relieve pain temporarily or for a prolonged period. Epidural injections do not provide relief immediately, but you can notice improvements in your symptoms within twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

Which conditions can epidural injections treat?

Epidural injections can relieve pain resulting from sciatica, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, bulging discs, back issues, bone spurs, and failed surgery.

How do epidural injections work?

The different medications in an epidural injection provide varying effects. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and nerve irritation, allowing the nerve to heal itself, and preventing further pain. The epidural injections are administered directly into the epidural space, so the medications move throughout the area, coating the injured or inflamed nerve roots. Lower back injections help reduce pain associated with your lower back and nerves traveling to your lower limbs like a sciatic nerve.

How often can you have steroid injections?

Doctors recommend epidural injections be administered three to six times yearly. If you have a new disc herniation, your doctor can administer epidural injections weeks apart to promote quick and full resolution of symptoms. If you have a chronic condition, your doctor can suggest you get injections three to six months apart.

How long do epidural injections provide relief?

In some patients, epidural injections relieve pain permanently, especially for new disc herniation. For chronic pain or recurrent disc herniation, they can provide relief for three to six months or more.

Which side effects can you experience after epidural injections?

After epidural injections, you can experience mild pain at the injection site, temporary worsening of usual pain, insomnia, or increased blood sugar. Headache is a less common side effect. These side effects resolve within one to three days.

Which complications can arise after epidural injections?

Although rare, you can experience severe complications after an epidural injection, including:


Infection can occur within the body, affect your brain or spinal cord, or develop locally at the injection site. Pus can accumulate in the epidural space, inflammation of your brain and spinal cord membranes, or infection of your vertebral bone or disc.


If arteries are damaged, you may have localized bleeding and blood pooling within the soft tissues, epidural space, or spinal cord membranes. A blood clot can form within the artery, blocking the blood supply to vital tissues like the brain or spinal cord.

Nerve damage

Epidural injections can damage equina cauda nerves, resulting in a medical emergency known as equina cauda syndrome. This condition causes bladder and bowel control loss and must be attended immediately to prevent lower body paralysis.

Epidural injections are administered in the space around your spinal cord to relieve pain or inflammation. They can relieve pain associated with a herniated disc, sciatica, spinal stenosis, or bone spurs. Schedule an appointment at Pain & Anesthesia Care for epidural injections to relieve chronic back pain.