Steroids are potent anti-inflammatory medications. The goal of an epidural steroid injection is to place this medication near the area of injury or pathology within the spine. The steroid medication reverses the effect of pain-producing inflammatory compounds produced by the body, thereby easing pain and allowing for improved function. A local anesthetic is usually injected with the steroid, which may provide immediate short-term pain relief.
Epidural injections in the lumbar spine (lumbar epidural) are administered in the spinal canal of the low back (lumbar spine) under the guidance of X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy). These injections may help relieve back pain and sciatica. Epidural injections can also be given in other areas of the spinal canal (cervical and thoracic spine) to reduce inflammation, thus relieving pain in the upper back and neck respectively.