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 injection, your healthcare provider will discuss how you need to prepare.

Getting ready

You may need to prepare by doing the following:

  • Give the doctor a list of all medicines you take, including 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 before the injection 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 injection will be given. Your back is cleaned and may be covered with sterile towels.

  • Medicine is given to numb the skin near the injection site.

  • If X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy) is to be used, a contrast “dye” may be injected into your back. This helps your doctor 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. If you have increasing pain, headaches (especially when standing up) redness, fever, or symptoms of infection, seek medical attention right away. 

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.

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