Current Pain and Headache Reports

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 31-34

First online:

Epidural steroid injections are useful for the treatment of low back pain and radicular symptoms: Pro

  • Jai Sethee
  • , James P. RathmellAffiliated withMGH Center for Pain Medicine Email author 

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Epidural steroid injection has been used to treat low back pain for many decades. Numerous randomized trials have examined the efficacy of this approach. This review details the findings of older systematic reviews, newer randomized controlled trials, and two recent systematic reviews that examine the effectiveness of this treatment. Collectively, studies in acute radicular pain due to herniated nucleus pulposus have failed to show that epidural steroid injection reduces long-term pain or obviates the need for surgery. Similarly, there is scant evidence that epidural steroids have any beneficial effect in those with acute low back pain without leg pain or in those with chronic low back or leg pain. However, most studies have demonstrated more rapid resolution of leg pain in those who received epidural steroid injections versus those who did not. The role of epidural steroid injections in the management of acute radicular pain due to herniated nucleus pulposus is simply to provide earlier pain relief.