Cervical Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injections
A cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injection can help patients who have been diagnosed with a cervical radiculopathy. This condition causes pain because a cervical nerve has become compressed and damaged over time. The injection is considered when a patient’s neck and upper extremity pain has not responded to conservative care such as medications and physical therapy. The goal of this injection is to target the nerve causing the pain and allow the steroid that is injected to cause atrophy of tissues that are compressing the nerve and eliminate inflammation on the nerve.
A cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injection is both a diagnostic and a therapeutic injection. The procedure begins with the patient lying on his or her stomach. The area around the cervical spine is numbed with a local anesthetic. Through the anesthetized area, a needle is then placed where the targeted cervical nerve exits the spinal foramen under fluoroscopic guidance. Once the needle is in place, contrast is injected to confirm that the needle is exactly where it needs to be. Once needle placement is confirmed, the neural foramen and the target nerve is injected with an anesthetic and a steroid. The anesthetic injected is diagnostic while the steroid is therapeutic. This means that the patient will experience temporary pain relief following the injection if the target spinal nerve is the source of the pain. Once the anesthetic wears off, the pain will return. The therapeutic steroid then takes 1 to 2 weeks before it starts to work to give the patient longer lasting pain relief. Each patient responds differently to steroids. This means that patients may receive pain relief for several days to years depending on their individual response.
This injection is an alternative to neck surgery. Recovery time is quick and the procedure has fewer risks than surgery.