Herniating Disc Treatments | Epidural for Herniated Discs & Sciatica

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Epidural for Herniated Discs & Sciatica


Hypodermic syringe 3Spinal injections in form of an epidural are another common method for treating the acute pain associated with a prolapsed disc.

The steroids are injected in the area around the affected spinal nerve root to help deal with the sciatic pain rooting from a herniating disc.

However, in order to get long term pain relief, further measures have to be taken. After getting rid of the acute pain through epidural injections or other alternative therapies, the original cause of the problem should be the new focus of the treatment.

Such targeted treatments usually consist of specific exercises combined with other therapy methods that are aimed at fixing muscle imbalances and spinal misalignments and usually differ for each patient. 


How Does an Epidural Work?

When a spinal nerve is touched by a piece of disc that has herniated or even just bulged, the pressure from the disc is generally not painful by itself. That pressure sparks up an inflammation process around the nerve root and that is what really causes discomfort and pain.

The theory behind an epidural steroid injection is to provide the anti-inflammatory substance to alleviate pain. The steroid medication is injected around the pinched nerve root, bathing the area with an extremely potent anti-inflammatory material. The steroid medication is cortisone, and comes in various brand names such as Kenalog, Depo-Medrol, Celestone, etc.

What is the difference between the various types of steroids? They generally only differ with respect to their ‘particulate matter’, which has an impact on the duration of the effect. This means that the larger the particulate matter, the longer the steroid takes to disolve, and therefore the longer it stays around the nerve root where it has been injected.



Epidurals are Just for Temporary Relief

Injecting steroids around the pinched nerve root can be very effective for sciatica pain, but it does not remove the disc herniation. The pain relief may work for a few days, weeks, or months.

“Steroid injection worked wonders for my sciatic pain and after one shot I have been pain free 2 years!” ~Michelle

“Mine have been working for almost 4 months now. But I have been told they can work for a month, a year, or for the rest of your life.” ~Coty

“It worked for me for about 4 years.” ~Melissa

“My own pain came back exactly 2w after each injection. I had three injections within 6w, and that’s all I can have. ” ~Christy

For some people it doesn’t even work at all:

“Steroid epidural was useless and I gained 10 lbs.” ~Tamari

“I had no benefit from the 3 sets of 3 injections.” ~Mary

“Did nothing for me. Waste of time, money.” ~Brian

“So I got my epidural last Monday and nothing!! I feel worse. My lower back hurts even more and my left leg and foot continue extremely numb. So frustrated ” ~Yvette

The hope is that pain relief will be provided while one’s own body dissolves the piece of disc herniation that is pressing on the nerve root. If that does not happen before the relief from the epidural steroid injection wears off, then the spinal injection can be repeated.

Is the Injection Painful?

Again, the experiences here seem to differ:

“I have had 3 injections over the last 5 months. It is done under xray and isn’t too bad. The only time I had pain during the procedure is when the doctor hit a nerve which gave me a zapping pain down the leg. Lasted for maybe 3-4 seconds”. ~Hannah

“Just be ready because for some it can be a painful experience. Good luck!” ~Aguirre

“It seems a lot scarier than it is. You should have the option of sedation, but, it isn’t so bad. You’ll feel a pinch/sting accompanied by burning sensation, but, all I remember thinking was that the idea of it was more terrifying than the actual procedure was.” ~Thomas



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How Long Does it Take to Kick in?

As already seen above, for some people it never seems to kick in at all. For those who have had positive results, it usually took at least one day to feel the benefits of the injection.

“I get instant relief within a day or 2. ” ~Coty

“my pain was gone in 4 days and lasted 18 mths so far. Stating to return now” ~Michelle

” Took about 10 days to kick in and around a month for full effect.” ~Ella

What are the Side Effects?

As with most medications, some patients report unpleasant side effects after a steroid injection for back pain. Here are some of them:

“I had the nasty side effect of night sweats for a few days after the injection. I would wake up drenched in a cold sweat. It was so gross.” ~Hannah

“Does anyone else have headaches and non stop ringing in their ears after a steroid epidural???” ~Nathan

“I had a cortisone shot via CT scan 13 days ago and ended up in hospital last night with the worst sciatica i have ever felt in my life! That was my second shot ” ~Tarryn

People’s Experiences With Epidurals for Disc Herniation



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