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: 17 December, 2018

Legal steroids include, in particular, glucocorticosteroids that may be used for epidural steroid injections (ESIs). These injections aren’t 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 ESIs and their types.

What is An Epidural Steroid Injection?

The 1st administration of epidural injections dates back to 1901, when cocaine (local anesthetic) was injected epidurally to treat sciatica. In 1952, in spite of treating persons with lumbar nerve root pains, it was suggested that glucocorticosteroid therapy should be done via the epidural way.

What are ESIs? These are conventional techniques of invasive medicamentous treatment of chronic painful sensations in the back. They are performed by the direct shot of solutions of local anesthetic substances with/without glucocorticosteroids via the spinal cord between adjacent vertebrae.

The epidural route is useful for individuals suffering from nerve roots pain with/without shooting up to the limbs. Local anesthetics, providing their pharmacological effect, directly influence ill nerve fibers/nerve roots, decreasing their conductivity, thus excluding them as a pathogenetic intermedium from nociception (nociperception). The elimination of pain amidst glucocorticosteroid administration is principally based on their anti-inflammatory effect. Folks with acute radiculopathy have higher responsivity to corticosteroids in comparison with those having chronic illness. In such situation, symptomatic anesthetizing may not emerge within 7 days after the administration.

Despite their widespread use, deliberations about the efficiency of these steroidal shots are continuing, primarily because of the lack of well-orchestrated, randomized, controlled scientific experiments of their efficiency and possible dangers. The indications for prescribing the shots are equivocal. Shamliyan TA, Staal JB, Goldmann D, and Sands-Lincoln M (Elsevier Clinical Solutions, Radboud University, 2014) stated that many national guidelines don’t imply the routine use of epidural steroid treatment for permanent pain in the spine. Some medics say that this method of therapy allows for only short-term, but not long-lasting pain relieving and recovery of general health in folks, in particular, with lumbosacral nerve roots pains.

The procedure of ESIs 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.

ESI usually lasts from 15 to 30 min, all manipulations are done according to the conventional protocol:

  • A person should lie on the radiographic table either in flat position with the back slightly curved thanks to pillow put under the belly. In case of pain, a 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, a healthcare professional inserts the needle into the skin and directs it to the epidural space. Doing an injection without using fluoroscopy is considered ineffective because most times 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 slow process. Nevertheless, persons complain of a light pressure, which is directly related to the quantity of the medication, 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, a person should spend about 15 minutes under the medical 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 localized intervertebral discs, facet joints, fascial structures, ligaments, muscles placed in the lumbar zone of the back, and nerve roots. These sensations are persistent and may rarely occur due to a slipped disc, spinal stenosis or thoracic syndrome after a surgical intervention. 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). Injectable drugs for thorax are usually prescribed after thoracotomy (surgery to get access into the pleural space), sometimes simultaneously with pharmacotherapeutic analgesia. They can also be useful in cases of acute syndromes to eliminate acute thoracic pain, e.g., after thoracotomy.

Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection — Basic Characteristics

Permanent pain in neck with or without shooting up the arms is one of the most typical painful syndromes in adults. Their frequency is approx. 50% among gentle sex and 40% among male patients.

Cervical epidural steroid injection is a conservative method of minimally invasive therapy in patients suffering from chronic cervical painful sensations.

However, some studies show that their effects are ambiguous.

Epidural Steroid Injection in 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 in neck may also lead to other side effects.

Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection — Usage and Effects


Places of localization of persistent lumbar pain include intervertebral fibrocartilage, facet joints, fascia (ligaments), lumbar muscle tissues, and nerve roots. Degeneration of zygapophyseal facet joints is a frequent cause of continuous lower back pain. Its incidence is approx 30 out of 100 in folks having chronic lumbar pain. There are different approaches to the elimination of facet pain, including intra-articular facet steroid shots, radiofrequency neurotomy procedures, and epidural injectable drugs.

Epidural blockades with local anesthetics may provide adequate analgesia amid chronic spinal pains without motion block, which allows to combine ESIs with energetic physiotherapy.

However, according to Parr AT, Manchikanti L, Hameed H et al. (Premier Pain Center, Covington, LA, 2012) there are never ceasing debates regarding the clinical significance of lumbar injection treatment and its indications, including the efficiency of ESIs.