Preparing and Aftercare for an Epidural Steroid Injection

An epidural steroid injection is a very quick and painless experience, but whenever you are undergoing a procedure such as an epidural, it is wise to be prepared both for the procedure itself and what happens afterwards. This is not because the procedure is something to be nervous about or to be concerned about, but is a way of ensuring that it is as successful as possible, so that you can return to day to day life and a life without the pain of sciatica.

The Injection Itself

The epidural is administered on an out-patient basis, so there is no reason for you to stay in hospital overnight.

Epidurals are administered under a local anaesthetic. This means that you will be awake, but you may also be offered some kind of sedation. If a sedative is administered, then it is likely that you will not remember much about the epidural itself.


When you arrive to have the epidural, your blood pressure and heart rate will be taken, to ensure that there are no underlying medical conditions that may make the procedure less straightforward. Urine will usually be checked as well.

If you have diabetes you should make sure that this is discussed with your pain consultant, because the steroids that are used in the injection can affect blood sugar, so it is important that you at least raise it. All this means in practice is that your blood sugar levels can be monitored after the procedure.

If you are a woman who could be pregnant then it is important to tell us. X-ray guidance is usually used to ensure that the needle administers the steroid in the area where it is needed. Pregnant women should obviously not be subjected to X-ray, so it is important to raise this if it could affect you.

Your pain consultant will talk you through the procedure and give you the opportunity to raise any questions that you may have. You will then be asked to sign a consent form, stating that you agree to undergo this injection. This is routine and does not mean that there are any significant risks from an epidural steroid injection.

Post Procedure

After you have had the procedure, you may find that your legs feel quite numb or you may experience a tingling sensation, but this will usually go after only a few minutes.

The standard recovery time is usually between 30 minutes and an hour, with blood pressure being monitored for half an hour or so after the procedure.

You will not be able to drive home, so will have to arrange for someone to collect you. It may also be necessary for someone to stay with you overnight, particularly if you have had a sedative.

However, there are two golden rules as to what you should do after an epidural steroid; first you need to rest and take things easy for some 24 hours after you have had the injection. This does not mean that you cannot do anything at all, but simply that you need to be careful to rest the back. Secondly, around a week or 10 days after the procedure it is vital that you work with a physiotherapist to ensure that the underlying cause of the sciatica is treated and that you learn how to care for your back!

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