Cervical Epidural Injections

What is a Cervical Epidural Injection?

Cervical Epidural Injections are shots of medication used to treat spine pain or to help find out location or cause of pain. The "dura" is a fluid-filled sack that protects the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The space around the "dura" is called the "epidural space." Anytime medicine is put into this space, it is called an "epidural." To ensure proper placement of the medication the procedure is done under fluoroscopy (a type of low dose X-ray).

What is the purpose of a Cervical Epidural Injection?

Neck pain is often due to injury or inflammation of the disc and other supporting structures. The nerves are very close to the discs and they can be irritated as well, causing pain down the arm. Steroid medication can reduce inflammation and pain from the disc, nerves, and other structures.

How is the procedure performed?

After you check-in, you will be asked to put on a hospital gown and then lie on a stretcher in the pre-procedure/recovery room. An IV is started for medications and safety. A brief pre-procedure history will be taken and you will then be transported to the procedure room where you will be positioned on the X-ray table. Although you will be awake throughout the test, you will be given medicine if you so desire. After being positioned on the X-ray table, your skin will be cleaned with sterile soap. Anesthetic is injected to numb your skin and muscles over the spine. After this, fluoroscopy (X-ray) is used to guide a needle into the proper location, contrast dye is administered and then medication is slowly injected. After the test, you are taken to a recovery room where you'll need to rest for at least 30 minutes before going home.

The entire process for check-in, preparation, recovery, and checkout will take 1-2 hours. The procedure itself takes less than 15 minutes, however more time is spent in the procedure room for preparation. During the injection, pain is sometimes increased temporarily. The procedure can be stopped immediately at any time upon your request. Following the procedure you may experience some increased discomfort for about 2-3 days while the steroid medication is taking effect.

What are the risks involved with a Cervical Epidural Injection?

Every medical procedure, no matter how small, contains some risks. Anytime a needle is placed into your body there is a risk of tissue injury, infection, and bleeding. If this occurs in or near the spine it can result in nerve damage. Although extremely rare, severe nerve damage and death have occurred following spine injections. Injections near the spine also risk puncturing the dura and possible headaches. More common risks include a temporary increase in pain, local tenderness after the injection, allergic reaction to medication, and side effects from steroids.