With a transforaminal epidural steroid injection (ESI), often referred to as a 'nerve block', the needle is placed alongside the nerve as it exits the spine, and medication is placed into the 'nerve sleeve'. The medication then travels up the sleeve and into the epidural space from the side. This allows for a more concentrated delivery of steroid into one affected area (usually one segment and one side). Transforaminal ESIs can also be modified slightly to allow for more specific coverage of a single nerve and can provide diagnostic benefit, in addition to improved pain and function.
Lumbar epidural injections have provided relief for many patients over the course of years. Many patients realize a significant reduction in pain, especially when the injection was received for cases of sciatica. It is important to know that the chances for success and substantial relief are increased when the injections are done in conjunction with a comprehensive physical therapy program. Epidural injections may only be a temporary solution when more conservative options have been exhausted. If the underlying cause of the pain is a significant condition, surgery may be necessary.