Outcome assessment after epidural corticosteroid injection for low back pain and sciatica

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1993 Aug;18(10):1345-50. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199308000-00014.


Epidural corticosteroid injection is a relatively effective treatment for low back pain and sciatica with a low incidence of side effects, although the patient's perspective in terms of outcome and satisfaction has not been studied well. The assessment of outcome in low back pain patients is complex. Three types of measure were compared: 1) a clinical score, 2) patient ratings of pain and disability, and 3) patient satisfaction ratings. There were significant discrepancies among the results. Consequently, clinical trials using different outcome measures may reach different conclusions. It therefore is vital to have planned the study carefully in advance, considering the questions to be asked, especially in this area, where patient-derived measures (e.g., "patient satisfaction") are so important. This study of 35 patients showed a fall in clinical signs/symptoms, disability, and pain 1 week after the injection, with maintenance of the reduction in disability at 3 months. Eighty-five percent reported at least some improvement at 1 week and 43% had improvement lasting 3 months. Patients with a more depressed mood had higher levels of disability both before and after the procedure. Anxiety before the procedure did not adversely affect outcome, and it was well tolerated by most patients. At 3 months 83% were satisfied with the treatment they had received and a patient satisfaction questionnaire gave similar results. We continue to recommend this treatment as a well-tolerated procedure, with which most patients are satisfied.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Epidural
  • Low Back Pain / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Sciatica / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones