Need to Know
Nice to Know
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does It Work?
Using image-guidance from either fluoroscopy (X-rays that show motion inside your body in real-time) or CT, your doctor will place a long needle into the spine that corresponds to your pain and inject steroid medication to help reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
What Happens — Before, During, and After?
When you arrive for your procedure a clinical staff member will greet you and you will be brought into an exam room. Your doctor will greet you, explain the procedure and get your consent. You may ask any questions you may have at this time.
You will lie on your stomach on the exam table for this procedure. Your doctor will clean the area with an antiseptic solution and cover it with a surgical drape. Your doctor will then give you a shot of local anesthesia to numb the area. You will feel a small pinch as the anesthesia is administered.
Once the area is numb, your doctor will use imaging to administer the injection. Your doctor will slowly guide the needle into the space in your spine that corresponds to your pain. Once the needle is in place, your doctor will inject the medication. You will not feel pain as the needle is placed but you may feel some discomfort as the medicine is injected. This should only last a short moment and will most likely dissipate as soon as the injection is complete. Once the medicine has been administered you may feel some tingling. You should tell your doctor if you feel any sharp pain.
In most cases this procedure takes only a few minutes. Once the procedure is complete, the needle will be removed and you will have a small band-aid over the site.You should rest for the remainder of the day but you may resume your normal activities the following day.
The injection may not have immediate pain-relieving effects but you will likely feel lessening pain over the next few days. This pain relief can last anywhere from a few days up to a few months and in some cases longer, depending on your case.
How Should I Prepare?
There are things you can do to make your experience more comfortable, and many of these will depend on your individual preferences. You might like to keep a list of questions or — as you’re doing now — educate yourself about the procedure.
Some other things to keep in mind in planning for this procedure include:
- You will need a driver to bring you and take you home
- Your doctor may ask you to stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or blood thinners (such as Coumadin or warfarin) for a time before the procedure
What Should I Bring?
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Avoid bringing jewelry or valuables
What Are the Benefits and Risks?
The benefits of a steroid injection could be:
- Relief of mid and/or lower back pain
- Reduced inflammation which may lead to healing
- Some risks you should be aware of include:
- As with any procedure there is a slight risk of infection
- Rarely, this procedure can cause a temporary increase in pain
- Rarely there are reactions to the medication such as rash or hot flashes
- There is a slight risk of nerve damage at the injection site
- There is a slight risk of bleeding
- There are risks associated with exposure to X-rays. You should discuss this with your physician.
Keep in mind that this information is general. Your radiologist is the best source of information about how these risks and benefits may apply to you.