A randomized trial of steroid injections for back pain has shown that they are no more effective than a placebo.
the long-term benefits of surgery remain unproven and pain medicines
often have serious side effects, doctors have increasingly turned to
steroid injections to treat lumbosacral radiculopathy, a common cause of
back pain. The condition stems from damage to the discs between the
vertebrae that often leads to sciatica, numbness or pain in the legs.
tested 84 adults with back pain of less than six months’ duration,
dividing them into three groups. They received either steroids,
etanercept (an arthritis medicine) or an inactive saline solution in two
injections given two weeks apart. At the end of one month, they were assessed for pain.
and back pain decreased in all three groups, but there were no
statistically significant differences among them. The researchers
conclude that steroids may provide some short-term analgesic effect, but
that the improvement in all of the patients was mainly due to normal
Source - New York Times