Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

General Spine News

Sticking It to Disc Pain

Having low back pain from disc problems? Tried everything and still want to avoid surgery? There may be a new treatment option. Steroid injection into the epidural space is having some good results. The epidural space is just outside the outer covering of the spinal cord. Steroids are powerful antiinflammatory drugs. Used for low back pain, they can help reduce the swelling in and around the spinal nerves.

Most disc problems respond to treatment with short period of rest, oral steroids, and physical therapy. Surgery is only needed for a small number of patients. But for those who would like to avoid surgery, epidural steroids reduce swelling of the nerves 77 percent of the time. The patients in this study got pain relief that lasted a year or longer.

Some studies have not had these kinds of results. There are mixed opinions about this way to avoid surgery. Patients getting more than three injections are more likely to still need surgery at some point.

More studies are needed to decide the best time to give these injections. Doctors also need to know how often to give them and how many to give. Finally, the exact place to inject the steroids still remains unknown.


Jeffrey C. Wang, et al. Epidural Injections for the Treatment of Symptomatic Lumbar Herniated Discs. In Journal of Spinal Disorders. August 2002. Vol. 15. No. 4. Pp. 269-272.

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*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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