Epidural Steroid Injections/Transforaminal Nerve Blocks – cervical, thoracic, lumbar, caudal – A very common and minimally-invasive procedure to relieve leg, back, arm, and neck pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves is an Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI). Nerves become inflamed when the passages narrow where the nerves travel from the spine. This narrowing can occur as a result of several causes, such as spondylolisthesis (or slipped vertebrae), stenosis, joint cysts, disc herniation, or bone spurs. ESIs have been used for decades and are an effective and safe option for people experiencing pain.
An ESI includes a steroid to help alleviate inflammation. The procedure entails utilizing fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance to place the needle into position. ESIs are performed on an outpatient basis and require only local anesthetic to the skin to be done comfortably.
The goal of the injection is to provide relief from pain and to help the patient return to normal activities. ESIs are commonly used in combination with a comprehensive rehabilitation program which may include physical therapy, medications, or an exercise regimen. By following the recommendations of a physician, many patients experience relief for weeks, months, and sometimes a year or more. If an ESI is effective, a patient may have up to 4 in a one-year period. ESIs can also be very beneficial during an acute episode of pain of the leg or back. ESIs do not alter the patient’s underlying condition, but they can provide symptom relief that can allow the patient to improve function through physical therapy without suffering as much discomfort.