In preparation for the procedure, the patient lies on his or her side or sits to expose the lower back. The skin is cleansed with an antiseptic solution. A local anesthetic is injected to numb the tissue around the epidural injection site.
The physician guides a larger needle through the numbed tissue and into the epidural space. The needle is not pushed through the dura (the sac that surrounds the nerve roots). The needle is positioned just outside this sac. If a catheter is needed, it is pushed through the needle.
When the needle or catheter is in position, the physician slowly injects the anesthetic mixture. The anesthetic bathes the nerves in the area. The pain-numbing sensation typically begins working within twenty minutes. The region that is numbed depends on the location of the injection and the amount of anesthesia used.
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