What are epidural steroid injections?

Blausen 0354 EpiduralSteroidInjection
Blausen.com staff (2014)
  • An injection of a steroid usually performed to treat arm or leg pain, a condition commonly known as “sciatica.”
  • Sciatica occurs because of irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the lumbar spine. Because these nerves travel to the buttocks, hips, legs, and feet, you may feel pain in these areas.
  • An epidural steroid injection is performed by injecting local anesthetic (numbing medication) as well as a steroid. Steroids are a class of medications that reduce inflammation and thereby pain.
  • Your provider with use x-ray to perform the injection.
  • Relief may last for months to years, which allows you to focus on physical therapy and home exercises to strengthen and stabilize the muscles or surrounding area.
  • You will remain awake and aware during the procedure.


  • Most people can walk around immediately after. You will be monitored for a period of time, and depending on the injection site, you may need a ride home.
  • You may resume full activity the next day.
  • You may need a ride home after your injection, please ask the clinic if you have questions about this.
  • Mild bruising and soreness around the injection site may occur. 
    • Applying ice for a few days may reduce inflammation and pain
    • Continue to take your regular pain medication
  • Recording pain levels for a few days or weeks may help to track the level of relief achieved.
  • It may take up to seven (7) days to notice a result from the injection


  • Steroid injections may elevate blood sugar, blood pressure, and eye pressure temporarily. Temporary weight gain, water retention, flushing, mood swings, or insomnia may last for 7-10 days.
  • Potential risks with inserting a needle include bleeding, infection, pain flare, allergic reaction, headache, and nerve damage (rare). 
  • Please notify the provider if the injection site becomes infected (fever or drainage at the injection site) or inflamed (redness, swelling, pain at the site), or if you suspect nerve injury.