The Corticosteroid Injection Procedure
Corticosteroid injections are usually administered by the prescribing doctor in an outpatient facility under the guidance of fluoroscopy or ultrasound to verify that the medication is reaching the inflamed nerve root. Because the injection contains a local anesthetic as well as a corticosteroid, the injection is usually not painful, although the patient may feel pressure at the injection site. The injection procedure takes only a few minutes. Although the steroids themselves are not analgesics, they alleviate pain as a result of reducing inflammation.
In most cases, the patient experiences immediate pain relief from the anesthetic, but the relief is temporary and wears off in a few hours. During the next day or two, however, as the corticosteroid reduces inflammation, the patient should feel a significant, if not total, reduction in pain. The patient can usually resume normal activities the day following the procedure.
Risks Of Corticosteroid Injections
For most patients, corticosteroid injections are safe. As with all medical procedures, however, there is a possibility of complications. In rare instances, patients who have received corticosteroid injections have experienced headaches, bleeding, infections, nausea, vomiting, allergic reactions and nerve damage. This treatment should not be administered to patients who are pregnant or have a bleeding disorder or an infection. Because corticosteroids can temporarily elevate blood pressure and blood sugar, and affect mood, patients with hypertension, diabetes or mood disorders should be monitored before, during and after treatment.