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What Is a Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure? The Roles and Benefits Explained

Pain Management Oct 15, 2019 No Comments

Nearly one in three people suffer from neuropathic nerve pain. One way to reduce such pain is through a cervical epidural steroid injection procedure; but with such a complex name, many people are unsure about what this procedure is, and how it helps.

If you have ever had inflammation around the nerves in your neck, then you know just how painful this can be. Sometimes the pain can spread to the shoulders and arms. The pain is not always due to inflammation. It can also be caused by compressed or pinched nerves.

Compression, pinches and inflammation are often connected to:

  • Herniated discs
  • Arthritis
  • Bone spurs
  • Joint cysts
  • Ruptured spinal discs
  • Spine abnormalities
  • Spinal canal narrowing

All of these can make you uncomfortable and make it hard for you to carry out your daily routines.

The good news is that the inflammation or compression can be treated to alleviate the pain through a procedure called cervical epidural steroid injections.

The Role of a Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure

Your nerves have a protective membrane surrounding them. In this area is what is known as the epidural space.

Doctors who have specialized training in pain management complete the procedures. They inject steroids or numbing medicine into the epidural space to offer you relieve from the pain. This sounds like an easy procedure. However, you take a greater risk of having side effects if you are not working with a pain management specialist.

The results reported in studies have been so good that over 2.3 million Medicare patients alone received cervical epidural steroid injections in just one year. Some reports further state there are over 9 million injections performed annually, including Medicare patients as well as others.

This is a not a new procedure, however. This type of treatment has been around since the 1950s and has received a lot of positive feedback.

Endorsements of Steroid Injections

Injections have been endorsed by the Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and the North American Spine Society.

These agencies agree cervical epidural steroid injections are a safe and effective way to manage pain created by nerve issues in the spinal region.

While the Federal Drug Administration has yet to completely endorse the procedure, it has recently begun to recognize millions of people are finding relief and experiencing benefits.

Below are some of the benefits of cervical epidural steroid injection procedures.

Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure - Comprehensive Pain Management Center

Benefit 1: Simple Procedure

A pain management specialist is the doctor you want to perform your cervical epidural injection, a minimal non-invasive procedure. They are trained to complete this procedure without complications. While there are no guarantees, pain management doctors are seeing high success rates.

Your doctor will use x-ray guidance to inject a dye into the epidural area in which they will inject the numbing agent. They do this to make sure the steroid will go to the right place. Once they confirm it will be a successful injection, they administer the dose.

Your pain management specialist will then assess your level of pain. Many experience complete relief after just one dose. However, there are others that see a reduction in pain. In such cases, up to three cervical epidural steroid injection procedures can be performed.

Benefit 2: Ease of Recovery

After the cervical epidural steroid injection procedure, you will spend an hour or less in the recovery room. You are not able to drive, but you will be sent home the same day as your procedure. Recovery can be quick, allowing you to return to your normal activities.

Your doctor may also give you a pain diary to record your pain levels. This will tell your doctor how well the procedure worked at your follow-up meeting. If a you need a repeat procedure, it will usually be scheduled two weeks later.

Benefit 3: Allows the Body to Heal Itself

Your body is spectacular in the fact that when it can, it will work to heal any ailments it has. But when there is inflammation around your nerves, the body is unable to completely heal itself. It cannot reach the affected area due to the pinched or inflamed blockage.

With a successful cervical epidural steroid injection procedure, there is less inflammation, allowing your body to work on healing itself.

Benefit 4: Positive Outcomes

The success rate of cervical epidural steroid injection procedures is positive, with over 50% reporting lowered to no pain following the procedure.

If pain does not reduce after the first procedure, the doctor may choose to give you one or two more injections. No more than three can be administered, however.

Benefit 5: Can Help You Avoid Surgeries

In a study reported by the UCLA School of Medicine, it was found that out of 70 patients who agreed to try steroid injection before surgery, 63 percent reported enough pain relief from the cervical epidural steroid injection procedure that they chose not to have surgical treatment.

Benefit 6: Can Help You Avoid Medications

Opiates and other pain medications are often for patients experiencing pain in the neck, shoulders and arms. While medicines do work to help ease pain, patients can become addicted to them, creating a new set of problems.

Many patients on opiates experience negative effects from using narcotics to treat pain. Tolerance levels change and it becomes harder to feel pain relief unless the doctor increases the dose. Pain medicines create negative symptoms such as:

  • Digestion problems
  • Muscle spasms
  • Inability to get good sleep

When a patient can experience pain relief without the use of narcotics, they can live a more productive life.

Benefit 7: Improved Quality of Life

Because cervical epidural steroid injections reduce inflammation, which then lowers pain, patients can function in their own lives. Improved mental health is just one quality of life benefit. Without the pain, patients can feel positive emotions again.

Lessened pain through the procedure, combined with improved mental health you feel after the procedure, can in turn lead to a more active lifestyle.

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Your Common Questions, Answered

What Is a Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection Procedure?

Epidural steroid injections are steroids injected into the epidural space of a membrane to provide pain relief from: herniated discs, arthritis, bone spurs, abnormalities or other conditions.

Can I Trust Steroid Injections?

Yes, these injections are endorsed by the Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and the North American Spine Society.

What Are the Benefits of These Injections?

There many benefits, the main being pain relief. However, they are also: a very simple procedure that offers complete ease of recovery while allowing your body to heal itself. It can also help avoid future surgeries and improve your quality of life.


In conclusion, if you are experiencing pain in your neck area, there is help. You can reach out to a pain management specialist today for an assessment and to see if the cervical epidural steroid injection procedure can help ease your pain.



Read More: 

5 Types of Steroid Injections for Back Pain to Know & What Conditions They Treat


Comprehensive Pain Management Center