When nerve roots in the cervical (neck) region of the spine become compressed due to a damaged disc or spinal stenosis, it can cause severe swelling, inflammation and pain that radiates through the neck and into the shoulders and arms. The cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injection, typically performed as an outpatient procedure, targets the exact affected nerve in the cervical vertebrae. The medication inside the injection itself is a combination of anesthetics and steroids, designed to bathe the nerve root, reduce inflammation and alleviate pain – Oftentimes right away.
With a transforaminal epidural steroid injection (ESI), often referred to as a 'nerve block', the needle is placed alongside the nerve as it exits the spine, and medication is placed into the 'nerve sleeve'. The medication then travels up the sleeve and into the epidural space from the side. This allows for a more concentrated delivery of steroid into one affected area (usually one segment and one side). Transforaminal ESIs can also be modified slightly to allow for more specific coverage of a single nerve and can provide diagnostic benefit, in addition to improved pain and function.