How Well Do Steroid Injections Work For Back Pain?

man backache

Steroid injections for lower back pain may provide some relief for certain patients, but any benefits are temporary, a new study finds.

Lower back pain related to herniated disk (when intervertebral disks become compressed and bulge) and, to a lesser degree, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), is often treated with epidural steroid injections, the researchers said. But after reviewing 38 previously published studies, the researchers found no strong evidence to support their use for these conditions.

“These injections may not be as effective as perceived, and decisions should be based on an informed discussion of risks, benefits, and potential options, including surgery, medications and nonpharmacological options like exercise therapy,” said lead researcher Dr. Roger Chou, a professor of medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University.

Chou said lower back pain usually improves over time without treatment, but some patients may want relief sooner.