An epidural steroid injection places this powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly around the spinal nerves. Traditionally epidural injections were administered without any special equipment, by inserting the needle by feel in the area around the spinal nerves. More recently epidural injections have been administered with the aid of imaging tools to allow your physician to see the needle going to the proper location. Either real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy, or CT scan can be used to 'watch' the needle deliver the medication to the proper location.
Although generally well tolerated, there are risks involved with a steroid injection. Infection and bleeding are risks with any injection. Though rare, a “flare” of increased pain after the injection can also occur. This flare generally subsides within 3 days. If this happens to you, call your doctor. Steroid injections can also raise your blood glucose level for a few days so if you have diabetes, you should discuss this potential risk with your doctor. There are other risks involved. For example, if you are on a blood thinner like warfarin, you may need to discontinue it prior to the injection.