The Washington Times - October 7, 2008, 03:46PM

Do epidural steroid injections help in relieving back pain with sciatica?

There simply isn’t enough evidence to support epidural steroid injections for chronic low back pain, according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Neurology. An assessment committee of the American Academy of Neurology’s Therapeutics and Technology concluded that such treatments provide only short term relief at best.

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The committee reviewed 4 studies on epidural steroid injections for back pain with sciatica. Dr. Carmel Armon, who headed the review stated: “While some pain relief is a positive result in and of itself, the extent of leg and back pain relief from epidural steroid injections, on the average, fell short of the values typically viewed as clinically meaningful.”

The study explored the idea — held by many physicians — that the injections can help avoid surgery by reducing inflammation and allowing the body to heal itself. However, the studies indicated that a course of injections did not appear to reduce surgical rates. Dr. Armon stated, “This statement doesn’t say that injections don’t have a role. On the contrary. But that role needs to be better assessed. I appreciate how back pain impacts on people’s lives and I hope they can access the best treatment.”

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