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CERVICAL EPIDURAL STEROID INJECTION

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What is Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection?

A cervical epidural steroid injection (cervical ESI) involves administering anti-inflammatory medication, typically a steroid or corticosteroid, into the epidural space surrounding the spinal nerves in the neck. The primary objective of this procedure is to manage chronic pain resulting from the irritation and inflammation of spinal nerve roots in the cervical region of the spine, a condition known as cervical radiculopathy. Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy may include pain that radiates from the neck to the shoulders, arms, and hands.

It’s important to note that “cervical” in cervical ESIs refers to the neck region, not the cervix. The term “cervix” originates from the Latin word “cervix,” meaning “neck,” and it typically refers to the narrow passage forming the lower end of the uterus. This linguistic distinction clarifies that cervical epidural steroid injections target the neck area specifically, addressing nerve-related pain and inflammation rather than gynecological issues related to the cervix.

Diseases Cured by Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection

Healthcare providers utilize cervical epidural steroid injections to effectively manage cervical radiculopathy, a chronic pain condition caused by inflammation and irritation of spinal nerve roots in the neck. Cervical radiculopathy can manifest with symptoms such as pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and tingling sensations that radiate from the neck to the shoulders, arms, and hands.

Conditions that can irritate spinal nerve roots and cause cervical radiculopathy include:

  • Cervical herniated disk: Disks with weakened outer layers can allow inner material to push through, pressing on nearby nerves.
  • Cervical degenerative disk disease: Wearing away cushioning between vertebrae can lead to local inflammation in spinal nerve roots.
  • Cervical osteoarthritis (cervical spondylosis): Changes in bones, disks, and joints due to aging can narrow spinal column spaces, causing nerve irritation.
  • Cervical spinal stenosis: Narrowing of spaces in the neck reduces space for spinal nerve roots, leading to nerve irritation or compression and resulting in neck pain.

How Does It Work?

Doctors use cervical epidural steroid injections (cervical ESIs) as part of chronic pain management for conditions affecting the cervical spine, which comprises seven vertebrae (C1-C7) protecting the spinal cord and supporting head movement. These injections deliver steroid or corticosteroid medication into the epidural space surrounding the spinal cord in the neck, where inflammation or irritation of nerve roots may occur, leading to pain that can radiate to the shoulder and arm.

The cervical spine’s role includes safeguarding the brain stem, spinal cord, and supporting skull mobility. The spinal cord acts as a neural highway, transmitting signals between the brain and body. Inflamed or pinched nerve roots, often due to conditions like herniated disks, can cause significant pain.

During a cervical epidural steroid injection, the medication coats irritated nerves, reducing swelling and pressure to facilitate healing. The epidural space contains fat, the dural sac, spinal nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. While these injections commonly offer temporary pain relief, individual responses vary, with some patients not experiencing pain alleviation from the procedure.

Post Recovery Care

After receiving a cervical epidural steroid injection (cervical ESI), you might experience discomfort at the injection site, which is normal and typically lasts only a few hours. If a local anesthetic was used during the procedure, you may also feel heaviness or numbness in your neck, shoulder, arm, or hand, but this sensation should be temporary.

It’s advisable to take it easy and limit your activity level for the remainder of the day following the injection. It’s common for pain to worsen for two to three days post-procedure before beginning to improve. The effects of epidural steroid injections usually start to take effect within two to seven days, offering pain relief that can last from several days to several months or even longer, depending on individual factors and the underlying condition being treated.

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