Transforaminal epidural injections are non-surgical solutions for patients with chronic back and leg pain who have not experienced pain relief from conservative therapies. This injection helps alleviate pain by sending a steroid medication into nerve roots in the spine. As such, transforaminal epidural injections are sometimes referred to as selective nerve root blocks. The medication from this injection reduces inflammation around the nerve roots, subsequently reducing back and leg pain.
The transforaminal epidural injection is a short procedure that typically takes less than an hour to complete. Before the procedure, the patient may be asked to change into a surgical gown. He or she will then be positioned face down to expose the surgical site, which is usually located in the lower back. The area is sterilized with an antiseptic solution to minimize the risk of infection. General anesthesia is not typically used during a transforaminal epidural injection, but patients may be administered an intravenous sedation and local anesthetic to numb the area. Slight pressure may be felt at the beginning of the procedure, but overall, patients should not experience severe pain. Using an X-ray device called a fluoroscope, the physician finds the epidural space of the spine and begins to insert a hollow needle. A solution composed of an anesthetic and steroid medication is injected into the area. This anti-inflammatory medication is sent directly to the source of the patient's pain. After the injection, a small bandage is placed over the surgical site, concluding the procedure.
After the procedure, the patient's vitals are monitored. The patient may still feel numbness in the back or limbs, but he or she can return home that same day. A caretaker may need to drive the patient home after their transforaminal epidural injection. The patient should spend a day resting, as they may feel soreness around the injection site. Nevertheless, most people are able to return to work the next day if they are comfortable. Patients should start to feel the effects of the injection within the first few days. The effects vary from patient to patient, but pain relief may last up to six months after the injection. Because this is a temporary pain management solution, the procedure may be repeated if necessary.