What Does an Epidural Steroid Injection Feel Like?

So today I had to go in for an epidural steroid injection to my L5-S1 level due to radiating numbness in my leg and pain for several months. Over the last 15 years as an Atlanta car accident lawyer, I have discussed, analyzed, asked deposition questions and argued about these procedures. Going through with one yourself is quite another experience altogether.


My doctors at Peachtree Orthopedics, Dr. Chang and Dr. Cassinelli had both suggested I give it a try, so we finally scheduled it.

On the day of surgery, you cannot eat or drink, to prevent choking on vomit, lovely! After the usual mound of paperwork, they lie you down on a gurney and start an IV line so that they can administer a mild sedative.
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I was a little goofy once the sedation started but here is what you will go through when you have a lumbar epidural. There are two monitors in the room with live x-ray images that allow the doctor to know how far into your spine the needle is going. First, the doctor will inject a local anesthetic like xylocaine to numb the tissue through which the larger gauge needle will go.

One the local is applied, the doctor will put in the larger needle and inject the offending nerve root with a powerful steroid. The goal here is to take down the swelling and inflamation at the nerve root and it takes 4-5 days to see results. Studies have shown that 50% of people get some relief, so I am hopeful.

As far as pain goes, the local prick stings and feels like a single finger deep tissue massage push. Your back has a big group of muscles and it is not fun having a needle jammed in there. After that there really was no pain.

After the procedure, they insist on wheeling you out in a wheelchair, but at least I got my wife to play chauffeur.

It’s odd being on the receiving end of an injection that so many of my clients have been ordered to over the years. I have no idea whether this will be effective for my pain but I can tell you that fear of needles and fear of pain should not prevent you from considering the procedure. It is not that bad. If your orthopedist suggests an epidural to jump start healing on a herniated or bulging disc, do not be afraid of the procedure. I will check back here in a week with the results after visiting with our Savannah car accident attorney office.