After a year of daily back and leg pain, I'm ready to do anything that might help. What do you think of these steroid injections people get?

Steroid injections into the epidural space of the lumbar spine have been around since the early 1950s. The epidural space is the area between the bony ring of the spine and the covering of the spine called the dura. The dura is the sac that encloses the spinal fluid and nerves of the spine.

Many surgeons use steroid injections as a means of managing the problem. Patients often get good relief from pain and other symptoms. As with any invasive procedure, problems can develop. In about five per cent of patients, headache, hemorrhage (bleeding), or spinal meningitis (infection) occur.

If you have tried physical therapy, activity modification, and medications such as antiinflammatories and analgesics for pain without success, then steroid injection may be a good next step for you.

Talk to an orthopedic surgeon about this and other options before making a final decision.

Mario Ammirati, MD, MBA, and Florence Perino, MD. Symptomatic Air Trapped in the Spine After Lumbar Epidural Corticosteroid Injection. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. October 2006. Vol. 5. No. 4. Pp. 359-361.

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