The main goal of cervical epidural steroid injections is to help manage chronic paincaused by irritation and inflammation of the spinal nerve roots in your neck (the cervical region of your spine) due to certain conditions or injuries. This type of chronic pain is called cervical radiculopathy, which can radiate down from your neck to your shoulders, arms and/or hands.
“Cervical” comes from the Latin word “cervix,” which means “neck.” In the case of cervical ESIs, the injection is in your neck, not your cervix. The cervix, the narrow passage forming the lower end of the uterus, is called so because it’s a neck-like passage.
What are cervical epidural steroid injections used for?
Healthcare providers use cervical epidural steroid injections to manage a type of chronic pain known as cervical radiculopathy, which is caused by spinal nerve root inflammation and irritation in your neck. Cervical radiculopathy can cause the following symptoms, which can radiate down from your neck to your shoulder, arms and/or hands:
- Muscle weakness.
Many conditions can irritate your spinal nerve roots in your neck and cause cervical radiculopathy, including:
- Cervical herniated disk: This condition is also commonly called a slipped, ruptured or bulging disk. It’s one of the most common causes of neck pain. Disks have soft, gel-like centers and a firmer outer layer. Over time, the outer layer weakens and can crack. A cervical herniated disk happens when the inner substance pushes through a crack in one of the disks between two vertebrae in your neck. The leaked material may press on and pinch nearby spinal nerves.
- Cervical degenerative disk disease: This condition happens when the cushioning in between the vertebrae in your neck begins to wear away. A degenerated disk could cause local inflammation in your spinal nerve roots.
- Cervical osteoarthritis (cervical spondylosis): This condition involves changes to the bones, disks and joints in your neck caused by the normal wear-and-tear of aging. Cervical osteoarthritis can lead to narrowing of the interior of your spinal column in your neck or in the openings where spinal nerves exit, which can cause inflammation and irritation to the nerves.
- Cervical spinal stenosis: This condition is the narrowing of one or more spaces within your cervical spine (your neck). Less space within your spine reduces the amount of space available for your spinal nerve roots. A tightened space can cause the nerves to become irritated or pinched, which can lead to neck pain.