About six years ago, I had a steroid injection in my back that worked like a charm. Now that I'm having the same kind of neck pain (goes down my arm), I'm wondering if this could be done to my neck?

Epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a treatment option used for low back pain that goes down the leg. This type of pain is called lumbrosacral radiculopathy. A liquid containing a steroid and a numbing agent are injected into the area around the inflamed, irritated spinal nerve.

Patients often get pain relief that lasts. The decrease in pain makes it possible to increase movement and function. But it's not a cure for the underlying problem. Sometimes physical therapy can help with that. In other cases, surgery is still needed.

Some physicians have used ESI for neck pain from cervical radiculopathy. Although the process is similar (irritation of the nerve causes pain), the anatomy is slightly different. ESI is not routinely used for neck pain from radiculopathy.

There aren't very many good studies on the use of ESI for cervical radiculopathy. The American Academy of Neurology recently published a review of research in this area. They did not find very many high-quality scientific studies on ESI for the neck or low back. They are suggesting this is an area of need for future studies.

Epidural Steroid Injections. In Pain Medicine News. March/April 2007. Vol. 5. No. 2. Pp. 5.

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