An epidural nerve block is a type of injection commonly used to treat leg or back pain, such as sciatica. An epidural block may consist of anesthetic, steroid, or another type of medication. The medication is injected into the epidural space, which surrounds the spinal cord. This produces a numbing or anti-inflammatory effect on the nerves, reducing or relieving pain.
Epidural nerve blocks may be given as a single injection, or they may be administered through a thin tube, or catheter, so that additional medication can be given continuously or as required. Both single injections and continuous injections may be used for anesthesia during surgery or other procedures. If a single injection cannot provide enough anesthesia to last the entire procedure, continuous epidural blocks are used. Single injections are also used for pain due to conditions such as neuropathy or spinal stenosis.
A single injection procedure will typically be completed within a half hour. Your doctor will use X-ray guidance to inject the needle in the appropriate location. Usually, you can return home the same day following the procedure. It may be several days before you experience pain relief, and you may require multiple injections.