If you aren’t a fan of needles then we can understand your trepidation prior to a spinal injection. In fact, even if needles don’t bother you, a spinal injection is in a whole different ballgame compared to a simple vaccination or blood draw for most people. However, you shouldn’t worry about your epidural steroid injection when you book your procedure with the Spine Institute of North America at any of our New Jersey locations, including the East Windsor location. In order to ease your nerves prior to your injection procedure, we thought it would be beneficial to cover what you can expect during before, during, and after your procedure.
Prior to Your Spinal Injection
Once you and your doctor have decided that a spinal steroid injection is the best course of treatment for your back pain, then you will be able to schedule your procedure. Some facilities provide the option to have the spinal injection done while sedated and others simply do the spinal injection while you are awake, but sufficiently numbed so that you will not feel any intense pain or discomfort. Once you’ve made that decision and scheduled your appointment, you will be good to go, but you will be provided with pre-injection instructions on when you can consume food prior to your injection and other preparation information, especially if you opt for sedation. The best thing to do is to take it easy and continue to provide ice and heat to your back until your appointment day arrives.
During Your Spinal Injection
An epidural steroid injection is actually a very quick procedure that can be completed in a matter of minutes. However, if you opt for sedation, the entire procedure process may take a bit longer. With sedation you will need an IV to administer the sedative and time to let it clear out of your system after your procedure. During the procedure, you will be asked to lay on your stomach on the procedure table. Depending where your injection site is, that area of the body will probably be elevated with a pillow in order to help open up the spaces between the lamina just to the side of the spinal cord. The doctor will use fluoroscopy in order to help guide the needles. The procedure begins with an injection of anesthetic into the soft tissue at the injection site. There should only be a tiny pinch. Then the doctor will guide the main procedure needle into the openings between the lamina at the point of the most pain and inflammation. They will then release a numbing agent, like lidocaine, followed by the steroid, which is most commonly cortisone. After the substances are injected into the predetermined location, the needle will then be removed, and any necessary bandaging will be applied.
After Your Spinal Injection
After the injection is complete, you will be moved into a recovery area to rest, especially if you’ve had sedatives. The initial lidocaine injection should start helping right away, but it will take a few days for the steroid to really work into the tissue and provide extended benefits. After your injection, make sure you have a ride home, and you will be able to go back to your normal routine promptly.
If you experience regular back pain, see if an epidural steroid injection is the right course of treatment for you when you visit the Spine Institute of North America.