Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection (LESI)
An epidural steroid injection is the injection of a small amount of anti-inflammatory, not muscle-building, steroid into the epidural space, outside the spinal cord, in the low back area. This can treat inflammation or irritation of the spinal cord or spinal nerves. The epidural space surrounds the spinal cord and spinal nerves, and insulates them from the spine bones and disks. Many things can irritate the spinal cord or spinal nerves and cause pain, numbness, and weakness. Examples would include herniated or bulging disks, bone spurs, spinal stenosis, arthritis changes, or scar tissue from previous spine surgeries. This type of pain, referred to as radicular or sciatic-like pain, is felt in the area of the body that the irritated nerves(s) go to (innervate). If the irritation or inflammation is treated effectively, then possibly all of the pain, numbness, or weakness will resolve, thus preventing the need for surgery. If, after a single injection, the relief is partial, the injection can be repeated to try to achieve complete relief. The LESI is for the treatment of low back and leg pain, numbness, and weakness. The LESI is performed at the spinal level of the lower disks.
For a LESI, you will be placed in the sitting position or on your side. Your back will be cleansed with an antiseptic, and then numbed. The doctor will then guide the needle into the epidural space, and then inject the steroid. Sometimes, local anesthetic (like Novocain) is mixed with the steroid and can cause transient feelings of tingling, warmth, numbness, and weakness in your legs for up to 12 hours after the injection. The procedure may take up to 30 minutes. After the injection, you will lie down for 15 minutes and the nurse will monitor your blood pressure and pulse. A Band-Aid will be applied to the injection site. A nurse will review your discharge instructions with you before you go home.