This is a rare complication that may occur if a small hole is made in the fibrous sac and does not close up after the needle puncture. These small holes are only made in less than 1% of epidural injections and usually heal on their own. The spinal fluid inside can leak out, and when severe, the brain loses the cushioning effect of the fluid, which causes a severe headache when you sit or stand. These types of headaches occur typically about 2-3 days after the procedure and are positional - they come on when you sit or stand and go away when you lie down. If you do develop a spinal headache, it is OK to treat yourself. As long as you do not feel ill and have no fever and the headache goes away when you lay down, you may treat yourself with 24 hours of bed rest with bathroom privileges while drinking plenty of fluids. This almost always works. If it does not, contact the radiologist who performed the procedure or your referring physician. A procedure (called an epidural blood patch) can be performed in the hospital that has a very high success rate in treating spinal headaches.
A diagnostic facet joint injection is often performed to confirm the cause of pain. The facet joint is injected with a local anesthetic and corticosteroid medication (Fig. 3). The injection is given using X-ray fluoroscopy to ensure accurate needle placement in the facet joint. Your pain level is evaluated before and 20-30 minutes after injection, and monitored over the next week. Facet joint involvement is confirmed if your pain level decreases by more than 75%. If your pain level does not change after the injection, it is unlikely that the facet joint is the cause of your pain.