How Long Will an Epidural Steroid Injection Relieve My Pain?

Dec 13, 2023
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Epidural steroid injections have been used for pain relief for more than 70 years. The injection delivers two medications, an anesthetic, and a steroid, into your spine. For many people, the injection eases pain and inflammation. 

The expert care providers at Pain Consultants of Atlanta provide personalized, detailed pain management plans for our patients. If you have one of several conditions, including some common ones such as a herniated disc, bone spurs, or spinal stenosis, your doctor may recommend an epidural steroid injection. 

In this post, we explain what an epidural steroid injection is, who it may help, and how long you might expect the benefits to last. 

How an epidural steroid injection works

Your spine is made up of several different parts. You have the vertebra separated and cushioned by discs. Your spinal cord runs in the middle, surrounded by a protective sac of fluid called the epidural space. 

When you have an epidural steroid injection, your doctor injects medications directly into your epidural space. This space contains your nerve roots. 

The injection's anesthetic provides immediate, short-lived pain relief as it flows around your nerve roots. It takes a little longer for the steroid to do its work to calm inflammation. 

Once the inflammation disappears, you're likely to experience significant pain relief. 

Conditions treated by epidural steroid injections

Not every underlying condition that causes back pain can be successfully treated with an epidural steroid injection. Often, a traumatic injury causes inflammation, injuries due to overuse, or a specific condition affecting your spine. Here are some instances when an epidural steroid injection could help: 

  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Arthritis in the joints between the vertebrae
  • Thickened ligaments
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Bone spurs
  • Degenerative disc disease

Epidural steroid injections are not usually the first treatment we suggest. It is usually an option after more conservative options, such as physical therapy, medications, or other treatments that haven't worked well enough. 

What to expect during your procedure

Before your injection, we'll talk to you about exactly what to expect and whether you should skip any doses of your regular medications. You won't have to stay in the hospital overnight. 

You lie on a table, either on your side or your stomach, and we clean your skin and then numb the injection site with a local anesthetic. We use imaging equipment to place the injection precisely where it needs to be. 

After your injection, you can stay for a short time for observation; then you can go home. The anesthetic works quickly, and the steroid usually takes full effect within a week. 

How long will the pain relief last? 

Everyone responds to the steroid differently. Some people have relief for as little as a week, while others enjoy the benefit for as long as a year. Epidural steroid injections aren't permanent solutions but can provide significant pain relief. 

If you have questions about your specific condition or what to expect from an epidural steroid injection, schedule an appointment at any of the convenient locations of Pain Consultants in Atlanta. We have offices in Stockbridge, Fayetteville, Newnan, and Atlanta.