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


Reasons for Procedure  

The procedure is done to:

  • Reduce pain caused by swelling and irritation around the spine
  • Improve physical function for people with persistent low back pain and/or sciatica

Spinal injections are typically done when pain is not relieved by:

  • Rest
  • Ice and heat therapies
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Back exercises
  • Changes to the physical set-up of the work environment
  • Changes to physical activities, including work
  • Spinal manipulation

Possible Complications  

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have an injection, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Headache
  • Allergic reaction to the medication
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Fainting

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Current infection
  • Certain pre-existing medical conditions
  • Treatment with blood thinners or certain other medications
  • Poor health

What to Expect  

Prior to Procedure  

You may have the following done before the procedure:

  • A brief physical exam
  • Imaging studies to look for the location of possible causes of the pain, including

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

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Blood thinners


A local anesthetic and/or a sedative may be used. They may help to reduce 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 medication and a local anesthetic will be injected through the skin and into a space near the spine. X-ray imaging will be used to guide the placement of the needle. Contrast material may also be injected to confirm that the needle is in the right place. The medication 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  
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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 where your recovery will be monitored.
  • Because you were