Although a cervical epidural injection may sound intimidating, it is actually a far less invasive procedure than surgery or other options for treating pain and numbness from a pinched nerve. If you suffer from a pinched nerve, herniated disc, arthritis, or spinal stenosis, your doctor may recommend cervical steroidal injections to combat the pain and help you regain mobility.
About Cervical Epidural Injection
The membrane surrounding the spine and nerves is called the dura membrane. Around the dura membrane is the epidural space. The nerves pass through the cervical epidural space from the neck, shoulders, and arms to the brain. If there is compression or contact with bony structures, pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness can result. Medication injected into the epidural helps calm the nerves and block the pain signals.
What to Expect
When you arrive for your appointment, you’ll first be seated in a comfortable chair, positioned so that the doctor can use x-rays to visualize the neck structure. An IV will be inserted for administration of sedating medications in preparation for the injection. The skin on the back of the neck must be thoroughly sterilized with a special soap. Next, a numbing medication is injected at the site at which the epidural will be administered. There may be some discomfort with the numbing injection, but it fades quickly. Finally, your doctor will use an x-ray to guide the injection of a small needle into the epidural space. A small amount of contrast dye is injected to ensure proper positioning before the mixture of anesthetic and anti-inflammatories are injected into the body.
After The Procedure
You’ll be taken to a recovery area, to be monitored for up to an hour before discharge. This is to ensure that the sedation has a chance to wear off with no side effects. After the procedure, you’ll be asked to keep a “pain diary” to map your experience. This helps your medical team determine the effectiveness of the injection. Your doctor may make follow up appointments for further injections, depending upon your progress.