Risks Associated With Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections

The Question: What Risks Are There With Cervical Epidural Injections?

I have two herniated disks in the cervical spine and one herniated disk in the lumbar spine. I am considering getting an epidural for the cervical area, which is the one that bothers me the most. I read the potential risks and side effects for lumbar epidural from your website and would like to know if the risks for the cervical are similar - or are there additional risks involved with the cervical?

Also, my family has a history of strokes due to a gene mutation that predisposes to strokes by creating blood clots. I have been tested by a hematologist and do not carry the gene. However, my blood test showed a low antithrombin reading. If bleeding is a risk from an epidural, could clotting be another risk?

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Doctor’s Response: Cervical and Lumbar Injection Risks Are About the Same

For the most part, the risks of a cervical epidural injection are about the same. I have heard of one rare complication where an epidural caused a cerebrospinal fluid leak which lead to paralysis of one of the muscles in the eye. However, this is exceedingly rare.

A cervical epidural injection would not carry any risk of clotting. Local clotting after an injection would be good, and the only clotting to worry about is in the deep venous system of the legs, and this should not be a risk with a local injection.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.