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Lumbar Epidural Injection: Your Procedure

A lumbar epidural injection is an outpatient procedure. It’s often done in a hospital or an outpatient surgery center. Before your shot, your healthcare provider will tell you how to get ready.

Getting ready

You may need to do the following:

  • Give the healthcare provider a list of all medicines you take, such as aspirin and anti-inflammatories. (You may need to stop taking some of them before the injection.)

  • You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours before check-in.

  • Arrange for an adult friend or family member to drive you home afterward.

  • Bring any requested X-ray, CT, or MRI images on the day of the procedure.

During the procedure

The injection takes just a few minutes. But extra time is needed to get ready. You may be given medicine beforehand to help you relax:

  • In some cases, monitoring devices may be attached to your chest or side. These devices measure your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.

  • You lie on your stomach or side, depending on where the shot will be given. Your back is cleaned and may be covered with sterile towels.

  • Medicine is given to numb the skin near the place of the shot.

  • If X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy) is to be used, a contrast “dye” may be injected into your back. This helps your healthcare provider get a better image.

  • A local anesthetic (for numbing), steroids (for reducing inflammation), or both are injected into the epidural space.

The procedure is very safe. But there is a very small risk of infection or local reaction afterward. Seek medical care right away if you have:

  • Increasing pain

  • Headaches (especially when standing up)

  • Redness

  • Fever

  • Symptoms of infection 

After the procedure

You’ll spend time in a recovery area after the procedure. Before going home, you may be asked to fill out another survey about your pain.

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.