Transforaminal epidural steroid injection involves injecting steroid and numbing medication into the area between your spine and spinal cord. The medication helps to decrease inflammation and irritation of nerve roots or herniated disks.
The transforaminal approach to epidurals targets a specific nerve on one side and at one level. Risks of complication from this procedure are low and include bleeding, infection, nerve injury, leg weakness or headache.
For the procedure, you will lie face down on an X-ray table. Your back is scrubbed with an antibacterial cleanser. Your physician identifies the targets for injection with an X-ray camera, and a local anesthetic is used to numb the skin. A thin needle is placed next to the nerve as it exits the spine, and contrast dye is injected to confirm the medication — a combination of numbing medicine and steroid — will go to the correct spot.
The procedure usually takes 15 minutes. You may feel some immediate relief from the numbing medication, but the pain may return a few hours later as the anesthetic wears off. Longer-term relief starts in two to three days and can last for months.