What will happen to me during the procedure?
An IV will be started so that you may be given medication for relaxation if you so desire. Next, while lying face down on an X-ray table, your skin will be well cleansed with an antiseptic. The physician will numb the small area of the skin where the epidural needle will be inserted. Next, the physician will use X-ray guidance to direct a small needle into the epidural space. There will be a pressure felt with the part of the procedure. A small amount of contrast dye will then be injected to confirm that the medicine spreads to the affected nerve(s) in the epidural space. After this, the physician will inject a combination of numbing medicine (anesthetic) and time released anti-inflammatory (steroid).
What should I do and expect after the procedure?
You may have some partial numbness in your arms or legs from the anesthetic after the injection. This may last several hours, but you will be able to function safely as long as you take precautions. You will report your remaining pain (if any) and also record the relief you experience over the next 1-2 weeks.
You may notice an increase in your pain lasting for several days. This occurs after the numbing medicine wears off, but before the steroid has a chance to work. Ice will typically be more helpful than heat during this time. You may begin to notice an improvement in your pain 1-5 days after the injection. Improvements will generally occur with 10 days after the injection.
On the day of the injection, you should not drive. You should rest and avoid and strenuous activities. You may take your regular medicines after the procedure. On the day after the procedure, you may return to your regular activities. When you pain is improved, start your regular exercise/activities in moderation. Even if you are significantly improved, slowly increase your activities over 1-2 weeks to avoid recurrence of your pain.