Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections

For short-term back pain relief, lumbar epidural steroid injections can be a temporary alternative to back surgery.

Any surgical procedure will require time off for the hospital visit as well as a lengthy recovery time, even for minimally invasive techniques like an endoscopy.

The injections contain a mixture of anesthetic to numb the area for pain relief and a steroid, such as cortisone that will reduce the swelling of the epidural nerves.

Depending on what study you review they are as much as 98% ineffective in having any curative effect so you will likely see

Length of Treatment

lumbar epidural steroid injections, chronic back pain treatment, lower back pain remedy

Each individual injection only requires a few minutes, but the patient’s heart pressure and blood oxygen will be monitored before and afterwards to make sure no negative reaction to the steroids occurs. The patient should then rest for the next 24 hours or so to give the nerve bundles a chance to recover and allow the steroids to get started. Patients should expect to have the feeling of a sore back for a day or so.

The immediate impact is usually a lessening of the pain due to the anesthetic kicking in, and the actual steroid part of the lumbar epidural steroid injections can take up to five days to come into effect. However, once it starts to work, it can be operational for anywhere between a few days and a few months. The length of time the treatments are effective will depend on the patient’s metabolism and their steroid tolerance level. If the initial injection doesnt work, a patient can receive up to three in a six-month period.

Warnings and Side Effects

lumbar epidural steroid injections, chronic back pain treatment, lower back pain remedy

One of the main reasons for the popularity of lumbar epidural steroid injections as a pain relief method for back pain is that they work relatively quickly and can last for a long period of time. The most common immediate side effect is residual pain from the injection itself or a sense of aching from bruised muscles. However, a poorly placed injection can result in spinal puncture, which can cause headaches and infections in the affected area.

More severe side effects are a result of the cortisone, and include:

  • Weight gain
  • Increase in blood sugar in diabetics
  • Water retention
  • A decrease in the natural production of cortisone

If you experience these side effects, the doctor will stop any further injections and look into alternative pain relief sources.

Another serious side effect is deterioration of the disc and other cartilage caused by the steroid. This side effect is less known and more subtle so it does not receive as much attention as it should. The disc is likely already deteriorating and the steroid is just increasing the rate of disc degeneration.


Lumbar epidural steroid injections are just a short-term solution to lower back pain and the long term side effects do more to make the back problem worse than better. You must have an accurate diagnosis to seek the correct treatment instead of just using the Band-Aid approach of covering up the symptoms. Most spinal injections are recommended to reduce the pain of a pinched nerve in the lower back, herniated disc or other disc problem.

lumbar epidural steroid injections, chronic back pain treatment, lower back pain remedy

A pinched nerve in the lower back is also called a subluxation and a chiropractor is a back pain specialist who is trained to treat these types of spinal injuries.

If you are unsure whether you have a pinched nerve or not a chiropractor can take x-rays and palpate your spine to help diagnose your condition. If a subluxation is causing your back pain chiropractic adjustments will correct the misaligned vertebrae and take the pressure off the nerve.

If an MRI has confirmed that you have a herniated disc you do have an option other than lower back surgery. Non-surgical spinal decompression has a very high success rate in treating herniated discs as well as degenerative discs, spinal stenosis and facet syndrome.

The body is able to repair many herniated discs if the force of gravity is removed. Spinal decompression uses computer guided logarithmic decompression to effectively remove gravity by creating a vacuum inside the disc. This allows the body to draw the nucleus back into the disc and heal the torn annular walls.

Many doctors will recommend lumbar epidural steroid injections in the hope that reducing the inflammation will allow some healing to take place. They are unfortunately more than 95% ineffective at stimulating any long term healing. The doctors, however, have typically tried other pain killers etc. and they just don’t know what else to do.

lumbar epidural steroid injections, chronic back pain treatment, lower back pain remedy

Once you have an accurate diagnosis there are conservative treatments available to exhaust that will actually cure the problem instead of just covering up the symptoms. Back problems don’t get better with time so don’t procrastinate and take action now.

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