Epidural steroid injections are used mostly to help people manage chronic pain. They are also used to help a woman in labor manage the pains associated with giving birth. Generally speaking, a doctor injects a steroid into the epidural space next to your spinal cord, and the steroids ease the inflammation of the nerve roots, which in turns alleviates the pain a person feels.
But steroid injections are delicate procedures, and one mistake – even one that seems minor – can lead to serious side effects. Spine-Health tells us that some of the more common complications include:
- Like the patient who developed MRSA, any patient who has a spinal injection runs the risk of an infection. A contaminated needle or medication can cause illness, as can the passing of an infection from one part of the body to another. A spinal cord infection can lead to paralysis in some cases.
- Dural puncture. Also called a “wet tap,” a Dural puncture can lead to headaches that may or may not clear up on their own.
- Nerve damage. Nerve damage can be the result of a misplaced needle, and some damage may be permanent. It is possible that the recurring pain you are treating will no longer be treatable and may, in fact, get worse.
Some rarer complications may also include changes in blood sugar levels, a weakened immune system and ulcers. Based on our own experiences, we know that ESIs can also lead to strokes, arterial damage and internal bleeding, all of which can prove fatal in some extreme cases. Patients also run the risk of going into cardiac or respiratory arrest if they are given the wrong dosage of their medication.
Any time a healthcare professional does anything to the spine, the spinal cord, or the areas surrounding the spinal cord, there will be risks. The problem is that because of the sensitive nature of your nerves, and because the spinal cord is what allows your brain to tell your body what to do, what might be a nuisance side effect in other procedures could be the difference of life or death in a spinal procedure. Infections can spread quickly throughout the body, so it is crucial that you find a doctor and report any effects that are out of the ordinary, or that do not subside within the time they should.
If you were injured while receiving an epidural steroid injection, or contracted an illness during your time in the healthcare facility, Crandall & Pera Law may be able to help you. Our skilled medical malpractice attorneys in Kentucky and Ohio can advise you about your options if medical negligence or a defective drug led to your harm. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our team, please call our Kentucky team at 877.651.7764, our Ohio team at 877.686.8879, or use our contact form.