How Can Cervical Steroids Affect Your Body?

The impact that steroids can have on the body is well-known, for the most part.  But when they involve injections into your cervical area, the implications become a little more serious. While the benefits of cervical epidural steroid injections (ESIs), especially for short-term pain relief, are immense, so too are the potential effects on your body.

Still, under the supervision of the specialists at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery, cervical steroid injections could help your recovery in a fast and economical way.  Because we want you to make the most informed decision possible when it comes to your care, below are some of the ways that cervical steroids can affect your body.

What Are Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections?

A cervical epidural steroid injection (cervical ESI) is an injection of corticosteroids (similar to cortisone) into the epidural space around the spinal nerves in your neck and lower back.

ESIs are prescribed to manage chronic pain in the cervical region of your spine. This type of pain, which is caused by irritation and inflammation of the spinal nerve roots in your neck, is known as cervical radiculopathy. This condition causes pain to radiate down from your neck to your shoulders, arms, and/or hands.  Conditions that can cause cervical radiculopathy include:

The procedure itself lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.  Because the injection typically includes local anesthetic medicine, you may experience numbness in your head, neck, arm, or hands after the procedure.

What Are the Benefits of Cervical ESIs?

Like any steroid injection, the benefits of cervical ESIs can be both short-term and long-term. Near immediate pain relief is one of the biggest short-term benefits, while being able to diagnose any compounding issues is one of the biggest long-term benefits. Still, when considering ESIs, be sure to think about these potential benefits:

  • Temporary pain relief
  • Improvement to the point of being able to seek further treatment or physical therapy
  • Improved quality of life
  • Overall pain management
  • Prevention of the need for more invasive surgical procedures

Again, these benefits largely depend on how your body responds to the injections. Some patients report immediate relief, while pain relief for others may take longer. Furthermore, if your condition is severe enough, the injections may not help at all.

How Can Cervical ESIs Affect My Body?

It’s important to understand that cervical ESIs are normally very safe, with side effects and complications being very rare. However, like any procedure, there are some risks that come with cervical ESIs. Our specialists are happy to offer you some guidance, but whether or not the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks is completely up to you. With that in mind, here are some of the ways cervical ESIs can negatively affect your body:

Nerve Damage

Possibly the most serious effect that cervical ESIs can have on your body is damage to neighboring nerves. Because these nerves surround the spinal cord, damage to them can cause abnormal sensations, total loss of sensation, or seizures.


Infection is always a possibility when undergoing a medical procedure, and cervical ESIs are no different. Infections can occur either in the body, the brain, or around the area of the injection. Common infections like abscesses or meningitis have been known to occur in some patients.


Cervical ESIs sometimes cause bleeding or pooling of blood within the soft tissues of the spinal cord. Other complications include hematomas or blood clots that may form within the artery, blocking the blood supply to vital tissues, such as the brain and/or spinal cord.

Cardiovascular Complications

In some patients, cervical ESIs can cause low blood pressure and decreased heart rate after the injection. Also, if the solution in the injection of anesthetic enters a blood vessel, it may result in toxicity of the cardiovascular system.

Reach Out to OLSS for Help With Your Back Pain

Suffering from pain, no matter the source, is not an ideal way to live your life. When you have to consider the potential risks of a procedure like cervical epidural steroid injections, you can consult with the team at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery. Our team of experts optimize your treatment plan to make sure that you have the best possible chance at recovery. To learn more, you can schedule an appointment through our contact form or call our office at (855) 853-6542.

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