A lingering pain in your neck, shoulders, and arms? Cervical epidural injections might be the answer for you.
What is a cervical epidural?
Simply put, a cervical epidural is an injection that is directed into your neck, which is aimed at reducing the feeling of pain, numbness, or tingling in your neck, shoulders, and arms. This injection is a steroid medicine that is shot around the spinal cord where it connects to the neck, and can be used to reduce any swelling.
For some, a single injection is enough to stop the pain over the short-term. For others, they might need a series of cervical epidural injections over a few weeks or months. The cervical epidural injection is intended for short-term relief, allowing a patient to begin a recommended neck exercise program for long-term relief.
When would I need a cervical epidural injection?
A doctor will recommend a cervical epidural injection when the pain in a patient’s neck, shoulders, and arms is believed to be caused by a dysfunction in their cervical spine.
The cervical spine (another term for the neck) contains a sac known as the dura. The dura is where several important pieces are stored, including your nerves, spinal card, cerebrospinal fluid, and nerve roots. Nerves around your cervical spine pass through the space around the dura, then travel down the body—to the shoulders, arms, and hands.
If these nerves become irritated or pinched, an individual will feel pain all along the pathway of the nerve. This is called cervical radiculopathy, and it can be caused by a number of conditions, such as:
- Degenerated discs
- Cervical spinal stenosis
- Cervical osteoarthritis
- Cervical herniated discs
Before the Procedure
Before receiving a cervical epidural injection, it is important that you are completely aware of the procedure and what you must do to prepare yourself. Your doctor will need to know the following information:
- Any medicine or health products that you take, as these might cause bleeding or interfere with the anesthesia. It is important that you give your doctor an early notice on this information, as you might need to be off any medicine for over a week prior to the procedure
- Any blood thinners like Plavix, Coumadin, or aspirin that you take. If you take any of these, your doctor must know (he or she will advise you to avoid taking them a few days before the procedure)
- If you have any kind of advance care plan. If not, your doctor may want you to prepare this