An epidural steroid injection places this powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly around the spinal nerves. Traditionally epidural injections were administered without any special equipment, by inserting the needle by feel in the area around the spinal nerves. More recently epidural injections have been administered with the aid of imaging tools to allow your physician to see the needle going to the proper location. Either real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy, or CT scan can be used to 'watch' the needle deliver the medication to the proper location.
We note these studies not to discourage you from undergoing epidural steroid injections, but rather to help foster well-rounded discussions with your doctor. These injections have been shown to provide excellent pain relief in many patients (particularly those who have had symptoms for less than 3 months, not had a previous spine surgery, are younger than 60 years, and don’t smoke). However, epidural steroid injections are not magic bullets. Before starting injection therapy, talk to your doctor about the specific risks and benefits for you.
The benefits from the first shot only lasted 2 weeks. The second and third set of injections lasted about 90 days. In November, I was ready to have surgery. My EMG and nerve conduction tests proved that the nerves were "sleeping" before I was. After another MRI, the neurosurgeon said I was a candidate for surgery but I was not able to get the endoscopic type surgery that is less invasive. I would have an incision about 6-8" long. Along with removing the herniation, they would have to increase the size of the hole where the nerve roots were going through.