Home Steroid Information What is an Epidural (Cervical, Lumbar, and Thoracic) Steroid Injection!

What is an Epidural (Cervical, Lumbar, and Thoracic) Steroid Injection!

Posted by admin in Steroid Information Category. Reviewed and Updated: 20 December, 2017

Legal steroids include, in particular, glucocorticosteroids that may be used for making epidural steroid injections. These injections are not intended to support muscle mass and strength growth as different types of anabolic steroids, such as Anadrol, Drostanolone, and Trenbolone cycle do. Below you can read the most important information about epidural injections with steroid meds and their types.

What is an epidural steroid injection?

The 1st applying of epidural injections dates back to 1901, when cocaine (local anesthetic) was injected epidurally to treat a person with sciatica. In 1952, in order to treat persons suffering from lumbar nerve root pains, it was suggested that glucocorticosteroid therapy should be conducted via the epidural way.

What is an epidural steroid injection? Epidural injections are one of the traditional methods of invasive pharmacotherapy of chronic painful sensations in the back. They are done by the direct shot of solutions of local anesthetic meds with/without glucocorticosteroid via the spinal cord between adjacent vertebrae.

Conducting epidural injectable therapy is advised for individuals suffering from nerve roots pain with or without irradiation to the limbs. At the same time, local anesthetics, realizing their pharmacological mechanism of action, have a direct effect on the damaged nerve fibers/nerve roots, leading to suppression of their excitability and conductibility, thus excluding them as a pathogenetic link from nociception. The elimination of pain against the background of the use of glucocorticosteroids, above all, is based on their anti-inflammatory effect. Patients with acute radiculopathy demonstrate a more pronounced response to glucocorticosteroid therapy in comparison with those having chronic symptoms. In such a situation, symptomatic pain relieving may not emerge within one week after the administration.

Despite their widespread use, discussions about the efficiency of epidural steroidal injections are continuing, primarily because of the lack of well-planned, randomized, controlled scientific studies of their efficiency and absence of possible dangers. The indications for prescribing epidural injecting therapy also remain ambiguous. Most national recommendations don’t imply the routine use of epidural steroid treatment for permanent pain in the spine. According to some studies, this method of therapy allows for only short-term, but not long-lasting pain relieving and recovery of general health in patients, in particular, those suffering from lumbosacral nerve roots pains.

The procedure of epidural steroid injection is carried out in physician’s clinics, surgery centers or hospitals. Healthcare specialists who practice in different spheres (radiology, surgery, neurology, anesthesiology, physiatry) can be entitled to make the injection if this type.

A doctor may offer a patient to wear a special hospital gown, due to which it is easier to get the direct access to injection zone and find injection site.

As a rule, epidural steroid injection lasts from 15 to 30 min and all the manipulations are held according to the conventional protocol:

  • The person should lie on the radiographic table either in flat position of with the back slightly curved which is achieved due to the pillow put under the belly. In a situation of painful feelings, the person is permitted to sit or lie on his/her side.
  • First, the desired skin area should be cleaned, and then treated using a special anesthetic typically used by dentists.
  • To conduct manipulations with the greatest accuracy, X-ray imaging is used. With its help, the healthcare professional inserts the needle into the skin of the individual and directs it to the epidural space. Conducting an injection without using fluoroscopy is considered ineffective because in many cases doctors could not access the necessary epidural site.
  • As soon as the needle is positioned properly, a steroid solution is given. The injection is a rather slow process. Nevertheless, persons complain of a light pressure, which is directly related to the quantity of the medicament administered, which can be from three to ten milliliters, depending on the treating goals. But this discomfort doesn’t cause painful sensations.
  • At the finish of the injection, the person should spend some time (about 15 minutes) under the doctor’s supervision and then go home.

The procedure is shown in the video.

Thoracic epidural steroid injections

Like low back pain, severe & chronic pain inside the wall of the chest and thoracic vertebrae may be caused by intervertebral discs, facet joints, fascial structures, ligaments, muscles placed in the lumbar zone of the back, and also nerve roots. Such pains are of a persistent nature and may rarely occur due to the creation of disc herniation, spinal stenosis or be a result thoracic syndrome after the surgery. Thoracic epidural steroid injections are made by injecting a solution with the steroid via the intralaminar way (between the spine processes in the vertebrae) or by the transforaminal way (through the holes of the transverse processes). Thoracic injectable drugs in most situations are applied after thoracotomy and often in combination with pharmacotherapeutic analgesia. The injections also can be applied in cases of acute syndromes to eliminate acute thoracic pain, for example, after thoracotomy.

Cervical epidural steroid injection – basic characteristics

Permanent neck in pain with or without irradiation to the hand is one of the most typical painful syndromes in the adults. Their frequency is 48% among women and 38% among men.

Cervical epidural steroid injection is a conservative method of minimally invasive pharmacotherapy in patients suffering from chronic cervical painful sensations.
At the same time, according to some studies, their effectiveness is ambiguous.

Epidural steroid injection neck – adverse events

Similar to other drugs (such as anabolic steroids pills or testosterone in women) cervical steroid administered in the injectable form can cause complications and adverse events. According to patients’ reports, the most typical complications after cervical epidural steroidal injections include: vasovagal reaction, transient radicular pain, dyspepsia, post-dural puncture headache, a sensation of unease, transient global amnesia, paralysis, transient lightheadedness, injury of vertebral arteries, spinal cord infarction, fluid retention, and even lethal outcome. Epidural steroid injection neck may also lead to other side effects.

Lumbar epidural steroid injection – application and effects

Persistent or permanent lumbar pain may be caused by intervertebral discs, facet joints, fascia (ligaments), muscle tissues in the lumbar zone of the back, and also nerve roots. Degeneration of lumbar facet joints is one of the frequent sources of persistent lower back pain, and the incidence of its occurrence can vary from 15 to 45% among persons suffering from chronic lumbar pain. Different approaches to the elimination of facet pain are described in researches, including those based on intra-articular facet injections of steroids, radiofrequency necrotomic and epidural injectable drugs.

In particular, epidural blockades with local anesthetics may be associated with adequate analgesia against the background of chronic spinal pains without any motion block, which allows epidural injection application in combination with active physiotherapy.

At the same time, in the recent years, there have been continuing debates regarding the clinical value of lumbar injection treatment and its indications, including the efficiency of epidural steroid therapy.