Your doctor may give you an epidural steroid shot to reduce inflammation in your spine, relieve pain, or give your body time to heal. Here's what's going on. Your spine is made up of many parts, the bony vertebra stacked on top of one another, shock absorbing disks between the vertebra, ligaments and muscles connecting the bones, and of course the spinal cord with nerves branching out into the body.
The spinal cord is surrounded by fluid and a protective membrane. The area just outside this membrane is called the epidural space. Each rubbery disk in your spine has a tough outer layer and a spongy inner layer. Sometimes, due to aging, wear and tear, or an injury, the outer walls of the disk can weaken. This can allow the soft inner layer to bulge out, which irritates the spinal nerves and causes inflammation and pain.
If the wall gets weak enough, the inner disk can even burst through, further pressing on the nearby nerves. This is called a herniated disk. When this happens in your lower back, it causes shooting pain down your leg, a condition called sciatica. When it happens near your neck, it can cause pain and numbness in your arms. An epidural steroid shot puts medicine into your spine.
First the doctor will numb your skin with an anesthetic. Once the needle gets to the epidural space, he'll inject the steroid medicine. For some people this provides immediate relief. After the procedure you may apply ice to the area, use over-the-counter pain medicines, and resume driving after 24 hours.
For more information, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Warwick, RI.