Lumbar epidural steroid injection involves the injection of a steroid into the lumbar epidural space to relieve inflammation associated with spinal nerve compression. This procedure is designed to temporarily decrease leg pain or back pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis or lumbar disc herniation, commonly at vertebrae L4-L5.
Lumbar epidural steroid injection can be done safely as an outpatient procedure and is usually administered with the assistance of an x-ray machine or fluoroscopy while the patient is under a light conscious sedation. A local anesthetic is also used at the injection site.
This procedure is commonly done as an alternative to surgical intervention to improve sciatic pain or lumbar radiculopathy associated with lumbar disc herniations or spinal stenosis.
The steroid medicine may temporarily make your discomfort worse before it begins to help. You might experience bruising or pain where the injection was made. An epidural steroid injection will likely result in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) if you have diabetes. The hyperglycemia could go on for several hours or even days. An ESI may momentarily raise both your blood pressure and ocular pressure if you have glaucoma.
Lumbar ESIs are outpatient procedures that do not typically require extensive recovery. After the injection, you must wait a full 24 hours before returning to your normal everyday activities.
Since everyone recovers from epidurals differently, you should resume your regular daily activities as soon as you feel comfortable, provided at least 24 hours have passed. This includes completing physical therapy or exercising.
As you recover from the epidural, you should rest and occasionally get up to move around if comfortable. This is as simple as going for a quick stroll whenever you feel up to it.