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Epidural injection for chronic pain relief

2-minute read

This page will give you information about an epidural injection for chronic pain relief. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.

What is an epidural injection?

An epidural injection involves injecting local anaesthetics and steroids into an area called the epidural space, near your spinal cord. This numbs your nerves to provide pain relief. The steroids reduce inflammation and may make the pain relief last longer.

What types of epidural injection are available?

The type of epidural injection depends on where it is given.

What are the benefits of an epidural injection?

An epidural injection can give you short-term pain relief, allowing you to move around more easily.

What does the procedure involve?

Illustration showing different types of epidural injections.
Different types of epidural injection.

An epidural injection usually takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Your doctor will insert a needle and inject the anaesthetic. Your doctor will then remove the needle.

What complications can happen?

  • failure of the epidural
  • worsening pain
  • low blood pressure
  • headache
  • backache
  • temporary leg or arm weakness
  • seizures
  • difficulty passing urine
  • unexpected high block
  • infection around your spine
  • nerve injury
  • blood clot around your spine


An epidural injection can be used for most people, usually giving a safe and effective form of pain relief.

The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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Last reviewed: September 2018

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