Steroid Injections & Corticosteroids

Steroid Injections & Corticosteroids

Steroid Injections/Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are steroid hormones manufactured by the adrenal gland. Some corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone, can treat pain and inflammation (swelling), redness and itching caused by allergies, and autoimmune diseases like asthma.

Corticosteroid injections can help with pain and activity in people with arthritis or other joint diseases. Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are corticosteroids that are injected into the spinal canal to relieve neck pain and other spine disorders caused by disc herniation ("slipped disc") and other conditions.

Corticosteroid injections are used in sports medicine to treat muscle strains and ligament sprains, allowing athletes to return to competition sooner than if they did not receive treatment.

What is a steroid injection?

In layman's terms, a corticosteroid (steroid) injection is a method to administer pain medication locally in the body using a syringe. The anesthetic is injected into the epidural region. This fat-filled area protects the spinal cord and surrounding nerves from damage. Pain relief may be only momentary at times. Other times, the advantages last for a while.

Who needs an epidural steroid injection?

An epidermal steroid injection can provide quick relief if you have severe, tough-to-treat limb or arm pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves. Nerve fibers from the spine to your arms or legs frequently become restricted, causing this discomfort. This narrowing can cause spinal nerve irritation.

Several conditions may add to this narrowing, including the following:

  • Herniated disks
  • "Slipped" vertebrae
  • Joint cysts
  • Bone spurs
  • Spinal arthritis

Injected steroids reduce inflammation and open up blocked passageways, allowing pain alleviation.

Risks of Steroid Injection

Epidural steroid injections are rarely problematic. If you experience any side effects, they are most likely to include:

  • Flushing of the face and chest, with warmth and an increase in temperature (this usually only lasts a few several days)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Menstrual changes
  • Water retention
  • Pain that increases for several days after the procedure (rare)

Serious complications are infrequent but can include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis

Preparing for Steroid Injection

Epidural steroid injections are generally performed as an outpatient procedure. To make the injection process more manageable, you may be required to dress in a surgical gown. Most patients get only local anesthesia; therefore, ask for a sedative if necessary. Before getting the treatment, you should talk to your doctor about any worries if you have diabetes, an allergy to contrast dye, or other medical issues.

You may need to follow any number of additional procedures based on your medical condition.

What to expect during an epidural steroid injection procedure

An epidural steroid injection is a straightforward process. Your doctor will use an X-ray machine with moving pictures on a screen to guide the needle as they deliver the injection and confirm that the needle is in the correct spot. The contrast dye is injected to ensure that the medicine reaches the intended location. The steroid drug will generally be administered by the doctor and a local anesthetic to assist with pain relief.

What to expect after a steroid injection

You'll be able to go home after the surgery is completed. On the following day, you should be able to comfortably resume your regular activities. The anabolic steroids typically begin to work in 1 to 3 days. You might need up to a week in some situations to feel the benefits.

The injections have been shown to provide relief for people with chronic pain for months. They can be administered again if the treatment is successful. If you experience any adverse effects, see your medical professional immediately. If you don't get pain relief, talk to your doctor. This might indicate that the discomfort originates from someplace other than the spinal nerves. 

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