A common side effect of epidural steroid injections is swelling and pain at the injection site for one or two days, reports WebMD. Although other side effects are rare, they may include bleeding, nerve damage, infection, and brain and spinal cord fluid leakage. A side effect of having the injections too often involves weakening of the nearby muscles and spinal bones, points out Mayo Clinic.
Imaging tools such as fluoroscopy or CT scans make epidural steroid injections more accurate and successful, explains About.com. The injections usually relieve symptoms of inflammation and pain in the lower back, hips and legs for a few weeks but do not cure underlying disorders, according to WebMD. After returning home, patients can relieve normal swelling and pain by using ice packs for 15 to 20 minutes. If the pain and swelling at the point of injection lasts longer than two days, patients should contact their doctors. They should contact emergency services if they have more extreme reactions such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the tongue, face or throat.
Doctors normally only administer epidural steroid injections a few times a year due to the possible long-term side effects of multiple steroid injections, notes Mayo Clinic. Because the drugs in steroid injections imbalance hormones, the time gap between injections must be long enough for the body's hormones to regain their natural balance.