Here is the last installment of our epidural steroid injections FAQ series, brought to you by Spine Center of Texas. We’ll be listing potential complications you may encounter to help you make a more informed decision:
- Bleeding – Bleeding is typical of any needle procedure. Bleeding complications are extremely rare. However, make sure to tell your doctor is you have a tendency to bleed easily or you take any blood thinners, such as Coumadin. Patients rarely have to endure emergency surgery due to needle procedures such as this.
- Infection – Any needle procedure entails risk of infection. Patients have a risk of contracting meningitis. However, sterile techniques are always observed throughout the process and this risk is very low.
- Spinal headache – A small needle puncture is made in the fibrous sac during this procedure. Spinal headaches occur when this hole doesn’t close up. Needle punctures usually heal on their own, but if they don’t, the spinal fluid inside will leak out. For severe cases, the brain loses the fluid’s cushioning effect and may lead to severe headaches whenever the person sits or stands. Spinal headaches happen 2-4 days after the procedure. If you’re not feeling ill, try resting for 24 hours and drink plenty of fluids. If this doesn’t work, contact your doctor. An epidural blood patch may be performed to treat your spinal headache.
- Steroid side effects – It is uncommon for epidural steroids to produce unwanted side effects. For rare cases, potential side effects include increased blood sugar or hyperglycemia (especially for diabetics), fluid retention, elevated blood pressure, and transient redness or facial flushing. Such side effects from steroids likely develop over a length of time.
- Allergic reaction – Any type of medication, including x-ray contrast, may cause allergic reactions. Remember to always inform your doctor if you have any existing allergies before undergoing epidural steroid injection.