Epidural steroid injections are most commonly used in situations of radicular pain, which is a radiating pain that is transmitted away from the spine by an irritated spinal nerve. Irritation of a spinal nerve in the low back ( lumbar radiculopathy ), such as from lumbar spinal stenosis , cervical spinal stenosis, herniated disc , and foraminal encroachment, causes back pain that goes down the leg. Epidural injection is also used as a minimally invasive procedure to treat nerve compression in the neck (cervical spine), referred to as cervical radiculopathy , which causes pain.
Epidural steroid injections are generally very safe, but there are some rare potential complications. One of the most common risks is for the needle to go too deep and cause a hole in the dura, the tissue that surrounds the spinal cord and nerve roots. When this occurs spinal fluid can leak out through the hole and cause a headache . This headache can be treated with bedrest, or with a blood patch. A blood patch involves drawing some blood from the vein and the injecting it over the hole in the dura. The blood forms a seal over the hole and prevents any further fluid from leaking out.
The benefits from the first shot only lasted 2 weeks. The second and third set of injections lasted about 90 days. In November, I was ready to have surgery. My EMG and nerve conduction tests proved that the nerves were "sleeping" before I was. After another MRI, the neurosurgeon said I was a candidate for surgery but I was not able to get the endoscopic type surgery that is less invasive. I would have an incision about 6-8" long. Along with removing the herniation, they would have to increase the size of the hole where the nerve roots were going through.