Steroid injections provide diagnostic data and pain relief by delivering local anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroid medications into the area or joint in which they are injected. They can be injected into areas around the spine such as the epidural space, in the contact areas of the spine such as (facet joints) and SI (sacroiliac) joints - and in other peripheral joints such as hips, knee, shoulders, elbows, ankles, plantar fascia, hamstrings, trigger fingers, etc. These procedures may reduce inflammation, resulting in long-term pain relief, and provides valuable information on the source of your pain.
Sometimes you may be given light sedation during your injection to help with pain and anxiety of getting an injection (especially around the spine). You will remain awake throughout the injection procedure. A thin needle is used guided by a fluoroscope (x-ray) connected to a visual monitor to ensure proper needle placement. A small amount of contrast material will then be injected to verify correct needle position. The local anesthetic and steroids will be injected next, which may create a pressure sensation.
You may experience numbness and/or relief from your symptoms for up to six hours after the injection. Your usual symptoms may then return and may possibly be somewhat more intense than usual for a day or two. The beneficial effects of the steroids usually require 2-3 days to take effect, but can take as long as 10-14 days. In some patients, a second or third injection is required to achieve adequate pain relief. If your pain is not improved after a reasonable period of time, your doctor will want to investigate other possible sources for your pain and determine further evaluation and treatments.
If conscious sedation is given due to the effects of certain medications, your driving reflexes may be impaired. You will need someone to drive you home from your procedure, so please make the necessary arrangements or request assistance in advance from your physician's office.
Ideally, blood thinners should be stopped 5-7 days prior to the procedure and one should not eat or drink anything four hours prior to the test. Please bring any previous x-rays, CT, or MRI films with you to your exam.
What are the side effects and risks?
Possible side effects of the steroid medications include facial redness, occasional low-grade fevers or flu-like symptoms, hiccups, sweating, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, increased heart rate, increased urination, generalized swelling, and abdominal cramping or bloating. These side effects occur in less than 5% of patients and commonly disappear within a few days after the injection. If your symptoms are lasting more than a week, please contact our office.
If you are a diabetic, follow your sugars carefully for a few days as steroids can make your blood sugar rise. Small risk of infection (although the skin is cleaned thoroughly with an antiseptic solution), and a small amount of bleeding may occur.
If you could be pregnant, please notify your physician prior to or at the time of you procedure.
Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.