As mentioned above, there may be more than one spinal structure causing your spine pain. Sometimes, there are multiple causes for your spine pain or radiculopathy. In this case, Dr. Lee may recommend alternative treatment options or steriod injections. For example, if your sciatica/leg pain or hand pain improves with epidural steroid injection but you still have low back pain or neck pain, you may benefit from facet joint injections. But, whatever the case, you will need further evaluation by Dr. Lee to decide on further treatment. Remember that there are multiple treatments available now for pain and just because one method yielded partial or no response DOES NOT necessarily mean you will “just have to live with the pain”!
This is a rare complication that may occur if a small hole is made in the fibrous sac and does not close up after the needle puncture. These small holes are only made in less than 1% of epidural injections and usually heal on their own. The spinal fluid inside can leak out, and when severe, the brain loses the cushioning effect of the fluid, which causes a severe headache when you sit or stand. These types of headaches occur typically about 2-3 days after the procedure and are positional - they come on when you sit or stand and go away when you lie down. If you do develop a spinal headache, it is OK to treat yourself. As long as you do not feel ill and have no fever and the headache goes away when you lay down, you may treat yourself with 24 hours of bed rest with bathroom privileges while drinking plenty of fluids. This almost always works. If it does not, contact the radiologist who performed the procedure or your referring physician. A procedure (called an epidural blood patch) can be performed in the hospital that has a very high success rate in treating spinal headaches.
Unfortunately there is not a “standard” amount of time a patient will feel relief following their epidural steroid injection. Pain relief may last for several weeks, or it may last for several years.
“Although we can’t predict how long pain relief will last, we do know that a majority of patients experience reduced pain and improved function in very short order,” says Dr. Willey. “At times, the response can be quite miraculous. Other times, we see only limited improvement. Much of that depends on the specific anatomy, individual physical condition, and, what I hypothesize, a large genetic component.”