The use of epidural steroids in the treatment of lumbar radicular pain. A prospective, randomized, double-blind study

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1985 Jan;67(1):63-6.


Seventy-three patients with lumbar radicular pain syndromes were treated in a prospective, randomized, double-blind fashion with either seven milliliters of methylprednisolone acetate and procaine or seven milliliters of physiological saline solution and procaine. All patients had radiographic confirmation of lumbar nerve-root compression, consistent with the clinical diagnosis of either an acute herniated nucleus pulposus or spinal stenosis. No statistically significant difference was observed between the control and experimental patients with either acute disc herniation or spinal stenosis. Long-term follow-up, averaging twenty months, failed to demonstrate the efficacy of a second injection of epidural steroids administered to the patients whose pain did not respond within twenty-four hours to an injection of either eighty milligrams of methylprednisolone acetate combined with five milliliters of 1 per cent procaine or two milliliters of sterile saline combined with five milliliters of 1 per cent procaine. Therefore, a decision to use epidural steroids must be made with the realization that we failed to demonstrate its clinical efficacy in this study and that reports of serious complications of this procedure have been published.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthesia, Epidural*
  • Back Pain / drug therapy*
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / analogs & derivatives
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / complications
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / drug therapy*
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / etiology
  • Procaine / administration & dosage
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation
  • Sciatica / drug therapy*
  • Sciatica / etiology
  • Spinal Nerve Roots*
  • Spinal Stenosis / complications
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate
  • Procaine
  • Methylprednisolone