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Spinal Corticosteroid Injection
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Spinal Corticosteroid Injection Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


A spinal corticosteroid injection places corticosteroids into tissue around the spine. Corticosteroids are drugs that reduce painful swelling and irritation, called inflammation. They are injected into the back with a needle.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may:

  • Perform a brief physical exam
  • Order an X-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
  • Order an MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • Order a CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body

Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:


A local anesthetic and/or a sedative may be used. They may help to alleviate pain and anxiety . You will be awake for the procedure.

Description of the Procedure

You will lie on your side on an x-ray table. The skin on your back will be washed with a sterile solution. A syringe containing corticosteroid medicine and a local anesthetic will be prepared. The needle will be injected through the skin and into a space near the spine. The doctor will likely use x-ray imaging to guide placement of the needle. Contrast material may also be injected to confirm that the needle is in the right place. The medicine will be injected and the needle will be removed from your back. A small bandage may then be placed over the injection site.

Corticosteroid Injection
Corticosteroid Injection
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

How Long Will It Take?

The procedure will take less than one hour. The entire visit takes about 2-3 hours.

Will It Hurt?

The injection of the local anesthetic may burn or sting for a few seconds. After that, you should not feel pain during the procedure.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

  • You will spend time in a recovery area.
  • A healthcare professional will monitor your recovery.
  • Because you were sedated during the procedure, you will need someone to drive you home.
  • Potential temporary side effects include:
  • Brief period of increased pain
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Facial flushing
  • Hiccups
  • Lightheadedness from low blood pressure

At Home

When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Rest on the day of the procedure.
  • Apply ice packs for soreness at the injection site.
  • Avoid baths, pools, and whirlpools for 24-48 hours.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .

It will take a few days to a week for the medicine to reduce the inflammation and pain. You should be able to resume your regular daily activities the day after the procedure. You should be able to start exercising within one week.



American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Association of Neurological Surgeons


Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

Health Canada


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Jain KK. Neurologic complications of local anesthesia. In: Gilman S, ed. MedLink Neurology. San Diego, CA: MedLink Corporation; 2008.

Lumbar epidural steroid injections. Pain website. Available at: . Accessed July 21, 2009.

Manchikanti L, Staats PS, Singh V, et al. Evidence-based practice guidelines for interventional techniques in the management of chronic spinal pain. Pain Phys. 2003;6:3-81.

Ramachandran TS. Lumbar spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudications. In: Gilman S, ed. MedLink Neurology. San Diego, CA: MedLink Corporation; 2008.

Spinal injections. North American Spine Society website. Available at: . Accessed September 7, 2005.



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