This outpatient procedure is an injection of a steroid-anesthetic medication. The medication can reduce swelling and inflammation of irritated spinal nerves. This procedure is performed to relieve pain in the lower back and pain that radiates from the back to the legs. The injection takes only a few minutes to complete.
In preparation for the procedure, the patient lies face down. A cushion is placed under the abdomen, which causes the spine to bend in a way that opens the spaces on the sides of the spine. These spaces are called the foramina. A local anesthetic is administered to numb the skin and the tissue that covers the spine. When the area is numb, the physician carefully guides a needle into the foraminal space that surrounds the irritated nerve root. A contrast solution is injected through the needle. The physician uses a fluoroscope (a type of x-ray device) to confirm that the tip of the needle is positioned correctly. After the needle's position has been confirmed, the physician injects a steroid-anesthetic medication. This medication bathes the irritated nerve roots. It will help alleviate the patient's pain. When the procedure is complete, the physician removes the needle and bandages the insertion site. The patient may feel significant relief after one injection. Some patients may need multiple injections before they feel the full benefit of the medication.