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Prior to surgery, patients may elect to undergo "epidural injections". These injections are similar to the "epidural" anesthesia which is given to pregnant women prior to delivery. However, spinal injections are commonly performed in operating suites with specialize X-ray equipment to visualize the exact placement of the injection.

The goal of the injection is to place steroids or anesthetic agents next or near the nerve which is causing pain. As a significant portion of the pain is believed to be caused by inflammation, the steroid is used to minimize inflammation in the area of the nerve.

The general consensus on epidural injections is that about 50% of the patient may get pain relief lasting anywhere between a few days to over one year. Each individual reacts differently to these injections and the timing and number of injections needs to be customized for each patient.

Like any other surgical procedure, epidural steroid injections do carry some risk with them. The most common side effects include gaining weight, flushing and initial worsening of pain. Other risks as seen in larger surgeries may also occur.

If the patient's symptoms are not improved by one or two epidural injections, it is unlikely that any further injections would be helpful. However, if the injections do help, up to three injections per year appears to be reasonably safe to undergo.

Since these injections can carry a significant risk especially when performed in the neck region, their risks and benefits should be reviewed in detail prior to proceeding with these injections.

The information contained above is intended for general reference purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment. No health information on Spine Specialty Institute, including information about herbal therapies and other dietary supplements, is regulated or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and therefore the information should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a medical doctor.