What is epidural steroid injections?

Epidural Steroid Injections
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Epidural Steroid Injection: Before Your Procedure

How can you care for yourself after an epidural steroid injection?


  • You may want to do less than normal for a few days. But you may also be able to return to your daily routine.
  • You may shower if your doctor okays it. Do not take a bath for the first 24 hours, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.


  • You can eat your normal diet.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.


  • If the site of your injection feels sore or tender, put ice or a cold pack on it for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

How long does an epidural steroid injection take?

The procedure will take 5 to 15 minutes. You will go home about an hour later.

How do you prepare for an epidural steroid injection?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What can you expect as you recover from a lumbar epidural steroid injection?

If your injection had local anesthetic and a steroid, your legs may feel heavy or numb right after. You will probably be able to walk. But you may need to be extra careful. Take care not to lose your balance, and be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.

If your injection contained local anesthetic, you may feel better right away. But this pain relief will last only a few hours. Your pain will probably return. This is because the steroids have not started working yet. Before the steroids start to work, your back may be sore for a few days.

These injections don't always work. When they do, it takes 1 to 5 days. This pain relief can last for several days to a few months or longer.

You may want to do less than normal for a few days. But you may also be able to return to your daily routine.

Some people are dizzy or feel sick to their stomach after getting this injection. These symptoms usually don't last very long.

If your pain is better, you may be able to keep doing your normal activities or physical therapy. But try not to overdo it, even if your back pain has improved a lot. If your pain is only a little better or if it comes back, your doctor may recommend another injection in a few weeks. If your pain has not changed, talk to your doctor about other treatment choices.

Epidural Steroid Injection: Returning Home

How is a lumbar epidural steroid injection done?

The doctor may use an imaging test before or during your injection. This can be an MRI, a CT scan, or an X-ray. These tests can show where your nerve problems are.

After finding the right spot, the doctor may inject a numbing medicine into the skin where you will get the steroid injection. Then the needle for the steroid is put into the numbed area. You may feel some pressure. You could feel some stinging or burning during the injection.

What happens on the day of your epidural steroid injection?

  • Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink for a certain amount of time before the procedure. Follow these instructions carefully.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
  • The procedure will take 5 to 15 minutes. You will go home about an hour later.

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