Effectiveness of Epidural Steroid Injections for Management of Spinal Nerve Pain

An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a cortisone injection used to treat inflammation around the spinal nerve roots. Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatories. In an ESI, medication is injected into the space around the lumbar spinal nerves where they branch off of the spinal cord. This area is called the epidural space. Some doctors inject only a steroid. Most doctors, however, combine a steroid with a long-lasting numbing medication.

Did you know…

  • Research has noted that in general patients who have symptoms for less than 3 months have a better response rate of 90% as compared to those with symptoms for less than 6 months with a response rate of 70% and those with spinal nerve pain for more than 1 year with a 50% response rate.
  • Recent literature has concluded that epidural spinal injections have been effective in preventing patients from having unnecessary surgery.
  • One study found that the combination of epidural spinal injections and non-interventional care (ex. Physical Therapy) has shown to be successful in decreasing necessity of surgery in 92.3% of patients with a disc herniation and nerve pain arising from the neck.
  • Overall literature has reported that short-term relief can be expected with epidural spinal injections when treating pain arising from the spinal nerves of neck and back.
  • Patients with prolonged symptoms greater than 1 year may have irreversible nerve damage, which reduces the likelihood of pain relief from epidural spinal injections.

From inservice presentation by 3rd year PT student at Sacred Heart University- Danielle Adler