An epidural block is an advanced medical procedure that decreases pain and swelling in and around the areas of the neck or lower back. A thin needle is attached to a special catheter, and then positioned between the epidural space of the spine. The clinician then injects steroids, anesthetic agents, or anti-inflammatory medications directly onto the nerve roots through the catheter, which blocks pain signals being sent to areas of discomfort. A live X-ray device, known as a fluoroscopy machine, allows the physician to accurately position the syringe between the vertebrae. People who require this pain-relieving technique often suffer from various disorders, such as a bulging disc, spinal stenosis, or physical injuries that directly affect the spine or neck.
Patients are advised to refrain from eating heavy foods prior to the procedure, especially if Valium is taken during the treatment session. In order to minimize the discomfort associated with the epidural block, a local anesthetic is injected into the skin before the main injection. The procedure takes between 10 and 15 minutes, with time afterwards for observation and patient rest. Due to the subsequent drowsiness associated with Valium, patients that choose to take this medication must have a friend or family member provide transportation.
A minority of patients will experience immediate pain-relief, while most individuals report less pain and increased mobility over a period of days, weeks, or months. It is not uncommon for patients to experience only limited pain relief after the initial procedure, which usually necessitates additional treatment. Others will experience pain-relief over several months, but will require additional treatment several months later to ensure they continue to be pain-free.