The thoracic epidural steroid injection is the process in which medication is injected into the epidural space of your back that helps ease the pain located in the thoracic, or middle, part of your back. These injections are typically suggested after other non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy and pain medication, fail to provide the necessary pain relief. These injections may reduce spinal swelling and can provide pain relief for weeks to months.
Steroid injections are not a cure for pain but rather a way to provide pain relief so patients can progress in their rehabilitation program or return to regular activities without severe pain. These injections can also be used to help properly identify the source of your pain.
Back problems such as:
Irritated spinal nerves from injury
Thoracic disk herniation
Thoracic post-surgical spine syndrome
Thoracic spinal stenosis
Thoracic epidural steroid injections can provide much-needed pain relief for patients whose pain continued following other treatment options. This outpatient procedure has no recovery period, and patients can return to work and regular activities the next day.
Prior to your procedure, your doctor may instruct you to stop taking blood thinners or immunosuppressant medication to reduce your risk for infection or complications. You may be told not to eat or drink several hours before your procedure especially if you will be fully sedated.
During the procedure, your healthcare professional performing the procedure will have you lay on your side before administering the anesthesia. Then they will disinfect and numb the area of your back where they will insert the needle. Guided by x-rays, the healthcare professional will inject the medication into your epidural space. You may feel some pressure if you are not fully sedated, but if you feel any sharp pains, tell your doctor immediately.
This procedure can take about thirty minutes, and you’ll be placed in an observation room while the medication takes effect once the procedure is completed.
You will need someone to drive you home following your procedure. You should rest for the remainder of the day following your injections. Your doctor will discuss when you can return to regular and recreational activities.
You may not immediately feel pain relief, as it can take up to a week to feel relief. The pain relief provided by these injections can last for a few weeks or several months. These injections may become part of your routine treatment regimen.
You may experience an increase in pain in the injection site following your injections, but this pain is normal and will dissipate within a few days. You may also experience numbness in your arms, but this normal side effect will dissipate within a few hours.
This procedure is quite safe, but all procedures have a possibility of complications. Your doctor has decided the benefits of these injections outweigh the potential risks. Potential risks include:
Bleeding, infection, or bruising at the injection
Headache from accidentally inserting the needle into the spinal cord