Epidural Steroid Injections in Colorado
Interventional Pain Management Treatments
In recent statistics gathered by United Healthcare, a staggering 90% of
Americans will suffer with lower back pain at some point in their lifetime.
In what has become the most common procedure for lumbar pain, the epidural
steroid injection is a highly effective, minimally invasive treatment
that can be administered in less than 30 minutes.
An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is used to relieve neck, arm, back,
and leg pain from inflamed and compressed spinal nerves. If you visit
one of our Colorado Clinic locations in Greely, Loveland, Colorado Springs,
or the surrounding areas, our knowledgeable pain management doctors will
guide you through the ESI treatment and keep up with your progress to
ensure you are experiencing pain relief.
What is the purpose of an epidural steroid injection?
Corticosteroid injections reduce inflammation and are effective when delivered
directly onto the painful nerves. The ESI does not make a herniated disc
smaller, but it will flush away proteins that cause irritation and swelling.
The pain relief from and ESI can last from 1-24 months, which varies from
What conditions are treated using ESI?
This type of injection is an effective treatment for conditions involving
a pinched or compressed spinal nerve. Some of the conditions we commonly
treat with ESI include:
Spinal stenosis – This is narrowing of the spinal canal that causes compression
of nerve roots that branch off the spinal cord.
Degenerative disc disease – With age and wear-and-tear, the intervertebral discs loose water
content and shape. This causes the vertebrae to shift and move, compression
Spondylolysis – With a fracture or weakness between the upper and lower facets
of a vertebra, the vertebra slips forward, which is known as spondylolisthesis.
This causes nerve root compression, pain, and radicular symptoms.
Herniated disc – The gel-like material inside a disc can rupture through a weakened
area in the tough outer layers/wall (called the annulus). The disc material
causes irritation, swelling, and pain when it comes in contact with a
We also use ESI for cases of whiplash, vertebral fractures, failed back
surgery syndrome, and spinal deformities. Essentially any condition that
is causing pain due to a pinched nerve or chemically irritated nerve root
can benefit from an ESI.
Who is a candidate for an ESI?
Epidural steroid injections are helpful for patients with inflammatory,
painful conditions. You should not have an ESI if you have bleeding problems,
an active infection, are pregnant, or complications from diabetes. ESIs
are often used to determine if surgery will be beneficial for the pain
related to a disc herniation.
How do I prepare for the epidural steroid injection?
The doctor will first meet with you to assess your condition, take a medical
history, and perform a physical examination. The doctor may take additional
imaging studies of your spine to evaluate the problem. If you are taking
a blood thinning medication (Plavix, Fragmin, Lovenox, Coumadin, or aspirin),
you should notify the doctor as these can interfere with the operation.
You will be sedated during the operation, meaning you will need someone
who can safely drive you home afterwards.
What happens during the ESI procedure?
When you arrive for your procedure, you will sign forms, change into a
gown, and the nurse will place an IV catheter in your hand. The nurse
positions you face-down on the procedure bed, and cleans your back region
using an antiseptic solution. The doctor then numbs the skin using a tiny
needle and anesthetic. A low dose sedative is given, such as Versed or
Valium. The procedure needle and catheter is inserted into the epidural
space using a special type of x-ray called fluoroscopy. This allows the
doctor to watch the needle on a monitor to ensure correct placement and
delivery of the medication onto the inflamed nerve root.
Our clinic performs epidural steroid injection as an outpatient treatment
using only local anesthesia at the site of injection. Full sedation is
What are the benefits of ESIs?
ESIs are used to relieve pain in patients who have not responded to other
treatments. The procedure is minimally invasive, done as an outpatient
procedure, and involves little recovery time. In addition, ESI can offer
long-term pain relief.
What happens after the ESI?
You will remain in a recovery area for 60 minutes. Some patients report
immediate relief of pain, especially when an anesthetic is used in the
injection. Your back will feel a bit sore, but this resolves in a few
days. We recommend you rest for 1-2 days, and gradually resume activities.
Does the epidural steroid injection work?
In a study involving patients with low back pain and a disc prolapse confirmed
by MRI, doctors administered an injection of methylprednisolone 80 mg
with 2 ml of bupivacaine. The success rate was 85%, with no complications.