When you have a cervical spine condition that causes an acute bout of pain that radiates through your shoulders and down your arms, an injection of cortisone steroid can be a great short-term solution.
Steroid injections cannot treat a problem and they have some risks and side effects, but on the whole they are a popular and beneficial way to cause pain to subside long enough for you to pursue more helpful treatment options, like physical therapy or exercise.
Here are some highlights from our Telly award-winning video about getting a cervical epidural steroid injection.
Pain in the cervical spine is often caused from inflammation around the nerves. The nerve roots, nerves, spinal cord, and cerbrospinal fluid are all contained in a sac call the dura. The epidural space, where the needle will go during the injection, surrounds the dura.
Why cervical epidural steroid injections are needed
This image shows the path of the nerves in the neck (in purple) as they travel down through the shoulders and into the arms and hands. When nerves in this area are irritated, you may feel pain along this path. This pain is referred to as cervical radiculopathy.
Epidural steroid injections may treat pain caused by conditions that cause inflammation and/or irritation to occur in the nerves as they exit the spine on each side of the vertebrae.
Conditions that can cause cervical radiculopathy include:
The cervical epidural injection procedure
To prepare for the procedure, you will be asked to lie face down. Your doctor will numb the area around the injection site with anesthetic.
Then the surgeon will use X-ray guidance and contrast dye, called fluoroscopy, to watch the needle going into the cervical epidural space and position it properly.
Once the needle is properly positioned, your doctor will inject a cortisone steroid solution, which is an anti-inflammatory medication. The medication should alleviate the inflammation, which should in turn decrease the nerve pain.