Steroid Epidural Injection
There are several risks associated with epidural injections, and although they are all relatively rare, it is worth discussing each with the professional who will be conducting the procedure to determine the incidence of prevalence in their practice.
Potential Risks of Epidural Steroid Injections
As with all invasive medical procedures, there are potential risks associated with lumbar epidural steroid injections. In addition to temporary numbness of the bowels and bladder, the most common potential risks and complications include:
Epidural Steroid Injection
Infection. Severe infections are rare, occurring in 0.1% to 0.01% of injections.
Dural puncture ("wet tap"). A dural puncture occurs in 0.5% of injections. It may cause a post-dural puncture headache (also called a spinal headache) that usually improves within a few days. Although infrequent, a blood patch may be necessary to alleviate the headache. A blood patch is a simple, quick procedure that involves obtaining a small amount of blood from a patient from an arm vein and immediately injecting it into the epidural space to allow it to clot around the spinal sac and stop the leak.
Bleeding. Bleeding is a rare complication and is more common for patients with underlying bleeding disorders.
Nerve damage. While extremely rare, nerve damage can occur from direct trauma from the needle, or from infection or bleeding.
Possible Side Effects of Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection
Localized increase in pain
Non-positional headaches resolving within 24 hours
Fever the night of injection
High blood sugar
A transient decrease in immunity because of the suppressive effect of the steroid
Severe arthritis of the hips (avascular necrosis)