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Are Epidural Steroid Injections Safe?

Back pain can sideline you for weeks, months, or years. Depending on what’s causing your pain, you may be able to treat it with an epidural steroid injection.

Our team of doctors at Spinal Diagnostics specializes in identifying the source of your back pain and helping you manage or eliminate it. For patients in Portland, Tualatin, and Newberg, Oregon, we employ a variety of pain management techniques, including our most effective -- an epidural steroid injection.

Epidural steroid injection explained

Although it may sound like a technologically advanced procedure, epidural steroid injections have been around since the 1950s and have remained popular because of their impressive success rate. This is a great option if you’re looking for a nonsurgical, minimally invasive way to treat your low back pain or sciatica.

What’s the process?

If we determine that an epidural steroid injection is right for you, one of our doctors expertly inserts the steroid (typically cortisone) into the affected space in your spine, also known as the epidural space. Because he delivers the steroid directly to the site of pain, it works more efficiently than any oral medication.

One of our doctors may also add a local anesthetic to the injection to bring you immediate relief, but the main impact comes from the anti-inflammatory properties of the steroid. Once the inflammation subsides, you can look forward to moving around pain-free.

How long does the epidural steroid injection last?

The effects of an epidural steroid injection vary widely in duration. Patients report benefits that last anywhere from one week to one year.

Whatever window of time your epidural steroid injection gives you, it is a precious opportunity to strengthen the muscles in the area and engage in physical therapy so that you can keep you the pain at bay.

Epidural steroid injections treat several conditions

While epidural steroid injections may be able to relieve pain in your neck and mid-back, it is most commonly used to treat lower back problems, such as:


Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back, down your leg, and all the way to your feet, is pinched, compressed, or inflamed. Epidural steroid injections are often used to alleviate the radiating pain you feel in your legs and buttocks, called sciatica.

Disc herniation in the lumbar region

If you have a herniated in disc in your lower back, you may be a good candidate for an epidural steroid injection. Research shows that 80% of people with this condition experience relief from the steroid injection.

Spinal stenosis

When bone spurs, herniated discs, or disc degeneration narrows your spinal canal, it’s called spinal stenosis. This means you can end up with compressed nerves, inflammation, and definite pain — all candidates for treatment by an epidural steroid injection.

Are epidural steroid injections safe?

Yes. Epidural steroid injections have been used for years and are considered one of the safest options for pain management in the lower back.

However, as with all minimally invasive procedures, there are small but extremely rare risks involved. These include: possible infection at the injection site, nerve damage, bleeding, and accidental dural puncture.

The best thing you can do to ensure a safe and successful epidural steroid injection is to choose an experienced doctor like Dr. Robert Heros, Dr. Jason Anderson, or Dr. Vishal Khemlani from our team at Spinal Diagnostics. Skill and knowledge go a long way when it comes to correct placement of the injection and the efficacy of your results.

Call us at any one of our three Portland-area locations to schedule a consultation, or click the Request Appointment button on our website to get started today.

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