Potential Side Effects of Epidural Steroid Injections

by Dr. Halland Chen, MD

Epidural steroid injection side effects are rare, but should be looked out for nonetheless. Infection is a rare side effect, ocurring in less than one percent of all patients. A dural puncture can cause headaches that usually resolve themselves in a few days. Bleeding is a rare complication usually only occurring in patients with blood conditions. Nerve damage can be a result of infection, bleeding, or direct trauma from the needle itself.

Although one could assume that one of the more risky epidural steroid injection side effects would be paralysis, you should not worry as the area where the procedure is done contains no spinal cord.

There are a number of epidural steroid injection side effects to keep an eye out for due to the steroid itself. It should be noted though that epidural steroid injection side effects are less common than oral steroids. The potential side effects from the steroids themselves include:

- Localized increase in pain
- Non-positional headaches
- Facial Flushing
- Anxiety
- Fever
- Sleeplessness
- Severe arthritis of the hips
- High blood sugar
- Stomach ulcers
- Cataracts
- Decrease in immunity

It is also important to keep in mind that longterm epidural steroid injection side effects can cause weakness in the nearby spinal bones and muscle tissue, as such you should only receive a few injections a year. This is a side effect of the steroid, which disrupts your body’s natural hormone production.

If you experience side effects such as headache that becomes more severe as you stand or sit, rather than laying. Loss of function or feeling in your limbs. Loss of bowel or bladder control. A fever of 101 degrees for more than 24 hours, or severe pain that over the counter painkillers cannot reduce, you should call your doctor immediately. These symptoms are atypical and must be assessed by a professional. The risks of epidural steroid injections are low, and are overshadowed by the benefits that can come from this non surgical process.

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