Lower back pain, pain running down the leg and numbness or tingling in the leg and foot can often be caused by compression or inflammation of a lumbar nerve root. In this situation, your physician may recommend a Lumbar Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection.
Transforaminal simply means “going through the neuroforaminal opening,” which is a bony opening in the vertebra where the lumbar nerve root exits in the spine and runs all the way down the leg.
To treat the nerve root that is causing the pain, a mix of anesthetic and steroid medications will be injected into the foraminal epidural space.
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under sedation for your comfort and usually takes between 15 to 20 minutes. While lying face down on a table, the skin is cleaned and numbed with anesthetic. Your physician uses a fluoroscopic X-ray machine to help guide the needle to the targeted opening where the nerve root is being compressed or is inflamed.
Steroid medications work by decreasing the inflammation that is causing the pain. The medication is injected and the needle is removed.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes as you recover from the sedation. You will need someone to drive you home. Your pain may return as the anesthetic wears off while the steroid medication takes 24 to 48 hours to begin to relieve the pain.
The effects of the injection vary from patient to patient, but can last several months or longer. If effective, the procedure can usually be repeated.