Dark Side Of Epidural Steroid Injection: How It Works, Possible Complications, Risk Prevention 

Is the dark side of epidural steroid injection worth the fleeting pain relief? This is a common practice that has been claimed to be low-risk. Although it calls for repeated injections at intervals as these injections don’t last long. 

Athletes and other gymnasts for this lumbar epidural steroid injection as it prevents having surgery. But again, it comes with drawbacks like throbbing pain, sciatica pain, and headaches.

These are temporary and can be easily tolerable but the catch here is that there will be only minimal relief which sometimes seems disappointing. 

In this guide, we will look deeper into the dark side of epidural steroid injection, potential complications, and risk prevention. 

Dark Side Of Epidural Steroid Injection

When you are pinning over the merits of such injection, you must not neglect the dark side of epidural steroid injection which comes with several unwanted consequences. 

Although it numbs the nerve roots and facilitates immensely during radiculopathy and spinal stenosis.  

  • Where these are injected, you might feel bruising and tenderness which is extremely painful.
  • You may be less exposed to low-level radiations from X-rays if fluoroscopy is being used. 
  • Mind it, using fluoroscopy is detrimental to children’s health. So, you must have a prenatal check-up beforehand to avoid any negative consequences as a result of it.
  • Steroid medication may worsen your condition instead of alleviating it. 
  • If you have diabetes, then be a little cautious before using these injections as the dark side of epidural steroid injection is high blood sugar levels. Sometimes, this condition persists for hours or worse days.
  • If you have glaucoma, then another dark side of epidural steroid injection is an abnormally high pulse rate and causes eye strain.
  • You might feel lightheaded and throbbing headache making you dizzy.
  • Insomnia is the most typical outcome and makes your body exhausted.
  • If medications don’t suit you, then beware as steroid injection can predominantly cause stomach ulcers.
  • Any steroid injection you expose your body to will result in excessive weight gain. You may get fat deposited on your back, shoulders, face, and tummy.

What You Can Expect In Epidural Steroid Injection?

As we are getting familiar with the dark side of epidural steroid injection here, you just need to be fully aware of what you can expect with such injections.

Let me explain to you that our brain and spinal cord are walled by meninges, three protective layers. 

The outermost is called the Dura and during Corticosteroid medication, the epidural injections are inserted into the space below the Dura.

Dark Side Of Epidural Steroid Injection: How It Works, Possible Complications, Risk Prevention

The injection is punctured between two spinal bones. Although it’s not a painful procedure you may suffer pain due to infections. The main purpose of such injections is to relieve spinal pain.

You need to have epidural steroid injections in the following conditions: 

  • When bony spikes protrude onto the spinal cord the condition is known as bone spurs. 
  • When your spinal canal narrows due to unknown reasons and is known by the name, ‘Spinal Stenosis’. 
  • When you have intervertebral disc bulges and the vertebral column is damaged. 
  • Painful spinal tumors and cysts may require you to get on this medication.
  • Epidural steroid injections will become necessary for you when you have spinal arthritis, sciatica pain, a and dislocated spine. 

Potential Complications Due To Epidural Steroid Injection

Although it may seem rare to you there is the dark side of epidural steroid injection which is alarming and you need to look out for: 

Localized Bleeding

It can damage your arteries and cause localized bleeding in the epidural space. 

You will be traumatized to know that it can block out hematoma or blood clots in the arteries blocking the blood supply to the tissues and therefore brain and spinal cord get adversely affected. 

High Infection Rate 

It’s another infectious condition caused due to epidural steroid injections. 

It causes the inflammation of the meninges the nerve membranes in the brain and spinal cord and negativity affects the body by targeting the spinal cord and brain. 

It has several associated conditions including, epidural abscess, where pus accumulates in the epidural space. Pus may accumulate in the areas where the injection is punctured. 

Discitis may also occur affecting vertebral bone. Infection may most likely occur due dermis of the patient.

Nerve Damage (Cauda Equina Syndrome)

You might not be familiar with this dark side of epidural steroid injection where the nerves at the base of the spinal cord are affected.

These are called cuada equina nerves and are adversely triggered even with one epidural steroid injection and BOOM you lose control over urination and your bowel movements. 

Dark Side Of Epidural Steroid Injection: How It Works, Possible Complications, Risk Prevention

If you start feeling such symptoms, immediately contact any healthcare provider because if left untreated cause paralysis of the lower body. 

Dural Puncture

When a needle is injected Inadvertently into the Dura mater (i.e., the outer membrane of the spinal cord) a Dural puncture appears. 

It is also called a wet tap and causes your cerebrospinal fluid to leak out and its pressure within the brain decreases significantly which causes you headaches. 

Painful Sensation & Allergies

If you are habitual with injection you may know when the effects of anaesthesia wear off, you may feel pain in that particular area of the puncture.  

The area may temporarily remain swollen and numb but it goes away gradually.  You can put a cold compress over the affected area to lessen the impact. 

The person in whom epidural steroid injection is injected may feel a slow heartbeat and low glycaemic index besides numerous other life-threatening allergic reactions. 

Adverse Impact on Blood Vessels

If the epidural steroid injection enters into blood vessels it causes toxicity and the Central nervous system and cardiovascular system are badly influenced. 

Dark Side Of Epidural Steroid Injection: How It Works, Possible Complications, Risk Prevention

In case, there are larger particles they accumulate and block blood vessels hindering the blood supply to the spinal cord.Although these situations are common among people above 50 years of age still caution is mandatory. 

How To Prevent Risks Associated With Epidural Steroid Injection?

Epidural steroid injection helps in alleviating spinal pain and ailments but there is the dark side of epidural steroid injection which people usually remain unaware of.

Here I’ll give you some strategies you can opt for to avoid being influenced by these potential risks.

Consult With Your Anaesthetist Beforehand 

Knowing everything prior may be more dangerous than you realize, so clear everything out before the injections. 

You must know that conditions like a tingling sensation or sharp shooting pain are where you have to as the anaesthetist to reposition the needles on the epidural surface. 

Choose Experienced Anaesthetists 

People having skills and knowledge about the procedure may better cater to your requirements. 

If you have hired a private medical team, then you can discuss the epidural process beforehand and comfortably go through the entire procedure.

Keep Yourself Updated About Other Spinal Injections 

You will be given information about the merits and demerits of each spinal injection beforehand. 

But let me tell you Transformational epidural steroid injections cause more complications than interlaminar caudal infections.

The former one injected into the side of the spine while the latter one injected between vertebral layers. Caudal ones are the safest which you can go for without any second thought.  

Take Proper Rest After Procedure

You must take maximum rest to avoid risking systematic absorption into the bloodstream which usually results in high blood sugar levels, high infection rates, and loss in bone density. 

If you are taking these epidural injections for back pain then prolonged rest will ensure maximum results.


In conclusion, epidural steroid injection will be beneficial for the cure of acute nerve and spinal cord issues. 

But there’s a dark side of epidural steroid injections which have been 9bserved quite frequently among patients. 

People who have undergone through procedure complain that it lost effectiveness rather quickly. It can cause Cuada equina syndrome where you lose control over bowel movements.

But if you start feeling these side effects, you should immediately contact an anaesthetist and bring forth your concerns.

But I’ll recommend you consult with a reputable professional anaesthetist and medical team who will coordinate with you throughout the procedure. 

Give it a thorough read and share have you ever had a spinal injection and how was your experience?

FAQs on the Dark Side Of Epidural Steroid Injection 

Are epidural steroid injections bad for you? 

Although there are some drawbacks the common bad symptoms include steroid flush, raised body temperature, and warmth in the chest.

Can epidural injection go wrong? 

Yes, it can but it’s not quite prevalent. It can damage nerves which causes Cauda Equina syndrome and you lose control over bowel movements.

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Hamza Ashraf

Mr Hamza is the admin of He is an SEO Executive having the practical experience of 5 years. He has been working with many Multinational companies, especially dealing in Portugal. Furthermore, he has been writing quality content since 2019. His ultimate goal is to provide content seekers with authentic and precise information.

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