FDA Warns About Dangers of Epidural Steroid Injections for Back Pain

The Food and Drug Administration has just issued what’s called a “Medwatch Alert” warning that Epidural steroid injections or “ESIs” for back and neck pain can be extremely dangerous. The alert says: “Injection of corticosteroids into the epidural space of the spine may result in rare but serious adverse events, including loss of vision, stroke, paralysis, and death.”

Epidural steroid injections – and catastrophic injuries from them – were the subject of my debut investigation for The Dr. Oz Show almost exactly a year ago. (You can watch the video here and read the web article here.) The epidural space is an area between the spinal cord and the bony structure of the spine.

Our investigation revealed that the steroids – called corticosteroids – used for epidural injections are not even FDA approved for this purpose and yet ESIs are done nearly 9 million times a year, according to an analysis by Dr. Laxmaiah Manchikanti.

In addition to informing the public via its Medwatch Alert, the FDA said, “We are requiring the addition of a Warning to the drug labels of injectable corticosteroids to describe these risks.”  Injectable corticosteroids include methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, and dexamethasone.

The new warning will be a more prominent reminder to doctors that injecting steroids into the epidural space, just outside the spinal cord, has risks. But the warning failed to list all of the possible adverse reactions. Those reactions are named in the fine print of current drug labels, and include: “arachnoiditis, bowel/bladder dysfunction, headache, meningitis, parapareisis/paraplegia, seizures, sensory disturbances.”

In 2009, the FDA convened a group to study the safety of some types of epidural steroid injections. In its new notice, the FDA said that group’s recommendations still are not ready and will be released when they are.

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Dennis Capolongo of the EDNC, a group that has been campaigning against epidural steroid injections for years, called the FDA’s new warning “bitter sweet” because it did not go further.  Capolongo wants the FDA to go beyond telling doctors that injecting steroids into the epidural space COULD have severe side effects and instead state that they MUST NOT do it.

In February of this year, Australian and New Zealand health authorities came out with exactly that stronger language, stating that steroids like this, “MUST NOT be used by the intrathecal, epidural, intravenous or any other unspecified routes.” The South African government issued similar warnings, according to Capolongo.

Since the FDA is still actively studying these procedures, it will be interesting to see if the agency takes any further steps. If and when it does, you can bet I’ll pass the information along.


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163 Responses

  1. Kelley says:

    Hmmm yet just about every Dr, and the CDC and the new barbaric “guidlines ” set by KillerKolonody are basically forcing patients in pain to do these, I have know numerous patients that were discharged from their “pain Drs” for refusing these dangerous injections,. How dare the CDC and Drs force patients to do these, and basically hold a patient hostage if they want to get “real pain medications, like the “evil” opiates. And many do injections for years , with the dictated Drs and CDC forcing them too, then denying them pain care after the damage is done, i finally left my so called “pain Dr” after a year of painful dangerous injections, and people being forced to line up in his office like a meat factory, we were like cattle waiting to be branded. It’s disgusting

    • Sammie Warwick says:

      All I know is that the 3 injection series I had finally eliminated the pain I had been enduring for 6 months from sciatica. Nothing touched the pain, not even oxycodone! So I hope and pray they will allow the patient to decide if they are willing to take the chance on these injections. They were a miracle for me. I couldn’t sit down, stand, walk or even lie down.

      • Mike Loney says:

        I agree with Sammie. The only thing that has given me relief from lower back pain due to internal herniation of L3-4 disk has been steroid injections. The only frustration is that it is not permanent relief. Usually last a few months. But at times I couldn’t move, and no pain medication helped other than to make me intoxicated. That was just trading one incapacitated state for another.

        • Joyce says:

          I had a spinal fusion and that fixed L3-4 for me.

          • Kathi says:

            I had several of these shots which helped for a while and surgery was recommended. I had a spinal fusion and laminectomy 5 years ago for L3-4 and I have been pain free ever since. I had an awesome surgeon.

          • Marilyn says:

            Yes joyce..spinal fusion for me too..ruff dieger you for a 65 yr old but so worth it. I tried the injections first but, no long lasting relief. Hope you are good now

          • Richard says:

            That is just one area.. I’ve had good results, but when 2-3 areas or more herniated in. My neck now, surgery will result in very limited motion afterwa day and possible other side effects.

        • Victoria says:

          i’m due tomorrow for my third shot. i have Degenerative Disc Disease. I was in severe pain for 4 months, until the shots. Now the doctor wants me to undergo stem cell. Problem is this is not covered by Medicare or private insurance & we’re talking 20 grand. At this point I’m just grateful for pain relief.

          • Jacqueline Robinson says:

            why do you need three shots if they were working you should not need three they wont last just make money of f you if the first one did not work then none will work after a while people end up in wheel chairs if they get too many of them if you need medication then they should give it to you

        • Lisanne says:

          I agree with both of you, two years worth, every 6 months has done wonders. When I get pain now I do Gentle and Restorative yoga and edibles high in cbd work well.

      • Jan says:

        I agree. Knowing the risks, the patient should be free to decide.
        The pain is literally excruciating at times. I think the Sciatica I had in August 2017 was the worst ever. I’m having another series of 3 injections
        Starting next Tuesday. I have no choice. Herniated discs, L 1,2 3,4. And severe arthritis.

        • Nancy says:

          It helped me with Sciatica pain and arthritis. I also had physical therapy along with this treatment.

          • Dale Little says:

            That’s fantastic! A good PT can help you find the root of the problem! Take care.

        • Carolyn says:

          Have you tried radiaographic ablasion? It really helped my mother in law’s sciatic pain that had run all the way down her legs. Her procedure lasted over 18 months.

          • Dale Little says:

            Radiofrequency Ablasion is a surgical procedure where the doctor “burns the nerve”. It is done short stay and typically goes well. The problem is that the only thing it does is decrease the pain. I doesn’t fix anything. My concern is that by not feeling the pain, one can make the problem much worse by bending lifting moving in ways they perhaps shouldn’t. The nerves grow back (that’s a good thing) and the cycle begins again. Keep in mind that surgery is permanent once something is done its not typically reversible. Also you can build up scar tissue and expose yourself to microorganisms causing infection.

      • Heather Lagasse says:

        If someone wonts to try this dangerous, Invasive, procedure that’s up to them its their body. BUT that’s the point people who receive pain med’s are being forced to get these injections, or they lose their meds, the one thing that has offered them some relief. I’m sorry but that sounds like blackmail to me. It’s MY body and NO one is going to RAPE me no matter what the object is!!!!!

      • Cathy says:


        • Arachsupport says:

          All I can say to this is that I sure as heck hope you never have to feel the incapacitating effects of one gone wrong. Glad they helped in your situation, however am in tears from reading stories of millions of people that have been afflicted with the so called fake side effects that are beyond description. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR NEXT SHOT.Again, I truly hope this does not happen to you as you will not be writing on this site, but another that will have you in tears. This warning has been around for years, is not a made up joke, and am extremely offended that you would even have the audacity to say such a thing. Every patient has the right to make a choice. I wish I chose “NO way” many years back as this has robbed me of everything. Would never wish this upon another human being. KNOW YOUR FACTS. Just look up adhesive arachnoiditis and you will seen”how many little adverse effects this has”. Disgraceful!

          • peachy100 says:

            I agree with you Arachsupport.. My precious friend suddenly dropped dead in his yard a couple of days after being injected 7 times during one day,,,Cervical epidural corticostereoid injections… 7 seven!! No accountability by the pain clinic! or Doctors!!

      • Victoria says:

        I totally agree with you.

      • Mari says:

        Sadly, I had three injections and they have done nothing for my Sciatica. Count your blessings!

        • Jules says:

          Me too. Radio frequency ablation took away about 25% of pain for ~3 months. Was incredibly painful!

      • Patsy Martin says:

        Also worked wonders for me. I’m getting ready to set up another one as its been 10 months since i had my 1st one and I’m beginning to have a little pain coming back.

      • I indured decades of knee pain from a football injury in highschool, I had developed a permanent limp. I finally opted for the shot 4 yrs. ago and have not felt that pain since.
        Last year I returned to construction work and my sciatica flared up and my crushed disc in my neck began to cause debilitating pain. I had refused the shots in my neck twice before in the last 10 yrs.
        Glad I went for it, I can hold my head back and not have to hang my head to avoid the pain.

        • Dale Little says:

          I am glad that the shot worked and you are feeling better. Keep in mind that the injured disc is still injured and that by not feeling pain more significant issues may be around the corner. I recommend stabilization exercises and finding an excellent physical therapist to work with. I wish you the best.

          • Misty says:

            Dale, physical therapy is a must and I’ve never known an orthopedist that didn’t prescribe PT for back pain from disc issues. But PT will not fix the problem either. There is no “cure”. All we have is management in the form of PT and and pain relief measures or last resort surgery. Right now the only people offering a chance of possible cure are those doing stem cell research. But that’s still in the “iffy” category.

            My question is: if further research shows these “rare adverse events” are not caused by the injections, will this page also report that?

      • Gran says:

        Sammie you probably had the less invasive injections where the injection was only injected with a shorter needle and injected beside the vertebrae and not into the spinal column. There is a BIG difference.

      • Dee Ann Wilson says:

        I was in agony for over a year with sciatica. Pain meds did not help. Thank the stars above for these epidurals….I got my life back!

    • Nadinf says:

      I know what your mean

    • Cathy says:

      Far more people die of opioids every year than spinal injections. Don’t hear much about all the spinal injection deaths on the streets on the evening news do you? There’s a reason for that!.

      • peachy100 says:

        Cathy, The deaths from spinal injections are NOT and have NOT been counted, reported, tracked etc…There is a reason why you don’t hear much about the deaths… Because the deaths are NOT being counted!!

      • Jacqueline Robinson says:

        there not reporting too many of these findings because this is the new way to make money off us patients were the health department wont hound them they are not FDA approved, and they don’t tell you that when I had mine done back in 2017 i was so sick and really hot i even tasted the medicine in my mouth they very risky, but i understand why people get them when nothing can help you will try anything, but they are very dangerous your nerves are so tiny and can easily be damaged some of these people are only trained a very short time to administer the shot people are over dosing because they are drug addicts and some of these doctors help them get those drugs i had five spine surgeries and i have two plates and 8 screws in my lower back and two in my neck i don’t take any narcotics since 2017 when i had my 5th surgery because they make me sick after a while so only when i have surgery, i will never get those injections again because not enough research and these pain clinics are lying so that scares that they say they don’t know they are not FDA approved to give to in the spine

    • Sherri Tatum says:

      I agree 100% Only people that are healthy can pop down there at the drop of the hat, also for a “pill count” They are the ones people in actual pain with legitimate conditions and medical evidence have to wind up buying pills from like a druggie! There are people I know for a fact that have no injuries or need for Hydrocodone, but get 120/month! First thing they tried to get me to do was fentanyl patches! I was like, are you crazy? I think I’ll pass! He had just met me and offered me that! Insane!

    • Greg Morrison says:

      I will take the injections over the opiates any day. I have a very large cervical fusion, C4-T1. I have 8 thoracic spinal cord compressions which are inoperable due to the danger associated with the surgery. I have injections at the T3-4 and T5-6 when the pain level reaches 8+. I also have cervical RFA’s done on both sides of my neck when pain levels reach 8+. Opiates are for acute periods not more than 2 week. With the opiate addiction hwat it is in the VA system VA Drs. won’t even hardly consider writing an acute script anymore. It’s sad that the author didn’t offer any other alternatives to the injections, especially since this was brought up on the Dr. Oz show. That in itself leads me to think that this article may be biased, imho only.

    • Jcm says:


      • Dale Little says:

        This is why people need to know that there are alternatives. One of which is physical therapy. In most states you can see a PT without a physician referral. That’s great! But for insurance purposes you need to have a referral at least in California. Medicare requires the physician to sign the therapists Plan of Care to “justify Medical Necessity” . I think thats bogus but who am I. A PT with a doctorate, orthopedic specialization with 23 years of experience.
        I hope you continue to do well.

        • Misth says:

          Dale, I saw 3 PT for my neck pain causing headaches before I gave up. The last one said they specialized in headaches. Every time I went I walked out with a headache. And that headache always turned into a migraine. I will never see a PT for my neck again. Been ther, done that. I would tell every one of them what was happening and they would on,y vary the routine slightly.

          Obviously PTs do not have all the answers. I’ve gotten headache relief from a neurologist and my primary doctor.

    • Jada says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Kelley

    • Seraphim Black says:

      Just to give another perspective, I get injections in my back, fingers, arms, and knees, and they really have made my life much better. I also take narcotic meds, and gabapentin which also help greatly. I think the takeaway from this article is that lawmakers and wanna be do-gooders are constantly trying to take away our much needed medicine, and we need to be aware, and stop them.

  2. Vicki says:

    I had an injection in my neck years ago and it didnt work. Thank God I had no bad reactions. Dr.s dont wanna give you pain medicine but they have no problem giving you a stroke or worse by injecting medicine into your c spine. Its a crazy world and its only getting worse.

    • Jenifet says:

      THat is because they get a few $1000’s of dollars for 3 minutes of work. It is alll about money instead of what works and is best for you!

      • Patricia Iorio says:

        That is so true, these doctors don’t care about you it’s money, money, and more money. I’ve had several epidural shots and none of them work. The last doctor dismissed me because I refused the third shot, first two didn’t work what made her think the third would.

      • GG says:

        Perfectly articulated.

      • Jennifer says:

        my pain clinic did this, without sonogram, then charged my insurance for both…they did this twice…the second time, I noticed because I read my insurance report…it took me 5 months to get them to agree that it was billed in error…I was supposed to get a refund of 38 dollars, after everything…next time I went to the doc, they said I had no balance…called their billing department where they proceeded to deny they owed me any money…how many people a day does this happened to?…insurance fraud…and the insurance company itself does not care, either…it’s a racket…

        • peachy100 says:

          Jennifer, Yes for the most part it is a racket!! In some situations (especially younger people) the ESIs in the spine may help (IF only a few ESIs are given) But long term use of the ESIs (multiple) eats the bones resulting in osteopenia or osteoporosis in ALL bones!! Caution is necessary!!

          • Jules says:

            Didn’t work for me, but was told can only have 3 per year for exactly this reason.

      • Greg Morrison says:

        My procedures are done by the military so your statement doesn’t hold true. This country has the highest opiate addiction rate in the WORLD. We need alternative ways to dealing with debilitating pain. State to stare legalization of marijuana is a state BUT because I use military and VA I can’t use medical marijuana even though it’s legal in Florida.

        • Jules says:

          CPP rate of addiction to prescription opioids is the same as in other countries: 1-5%.

      • Seraphim Black says:

        My doctor charges $175 for multiple injections that work very well.

        • Michele Jansz says:

          Big Pharma strikes again. I’ve read about that as well. What is concerning (among other things) is that doctors are running, and 1. Dropping their patients 2. Patient blaming if they do have side effects 3. The ol’ embellishments in chart notes game.

  3. Erica says:

    I’m being pressured into receiving these…?

    • Barbara says:

      Ugh… Me too…

      • Jenifer says:

        I would be talking to the state and writting letters to your elected officials. I would also calling your insurance company on how the procudures dont work but the doctor insisting on doing them instead of treating you that works. Until we make enough noise about what is happening nothing will be done. When my GP stops prescribing to me I guess I will be stuck vaping pot all day and being buzzed all day (legal or not) before I go to pain management. If they offer something that works fine, but to keep patients on invasive procudures that dont work for the patient and forcing them to go though this so they can get medication that works should be considered insurance fraud and endangering a patient. If they do not work in the area that has been done then it does no good to do them again except for the doctor pocketbook. Money is now what matters but opiate medication is much cheaper for insurance companies then epidurals every month. Complain to people who make the your state policies for healthcare.

        • Heather Lagasse says:

          You are so wright If someone wonts to try this dangerous, Invasive, procedure that’s up to them its their body. BUT that’s the point people who receive pain med’s are being forced to get these injections, or they lose their meds, the one thing that has offered them some relief. I’m sorry but that sounds like blackmail to me. It’s MY body and NO one is going to “”RAPE”” me no matter what the object is!!!!!

          • Cathy says:

            You always have the right to refuse treatment. Doctors have the right to refuse to treat you if they feel it’s not in your best interest or if they feel they could lose their license. They have rights just as you do. It’s not blackmail. You have the right to seek out another physician who will do what you want although it may not be in your best interest. American freedom is great and goes both ways.

    • Susan white says:

      Yes, Me too…if i don’t take them, they will take away my Norco’s…they at least help a little bit….

    • Cathy says:

      They were a GOD SEND TO ME. I would encourage anyone to get them that has lower back pain . We are not in a spinal injection epidemic where people are dying everyday because of spinal injections. We ARE in a opioid epidemic with people dying everyday. This article is a bunch of over dramatizing bull crap as is Dr. Oz. He fails to tell the multitudes it has helped and how few had problems in ratio to the multitudes injections have helped. There is risk with all medical procedures and less side effects from injections than with narcotics. Narcotics have killed far more people than injections ever will. Make sure a anesthesiologist does them and no one without those qualifications. I hate fake news which do not tell the entire truth.

      • dot says:

        I’ve had two injections, 2 years apart. I went into the hospital in a wheelchair, and practically danced on my way out. the first shot was just what I really needed. I also had PT to help me strengthen my stomach muscles in order to help my back. It worked!
        the second shot, 2 years later, was also just as good and back to PT.
        Now if I have the slightest twinge of sciatica, I grab the ice pack and get real relief. Then I go back to the exercises that were given to me in PT.
        We can all stand a lot more pain than we are really willing to admit, and now I will never take any oxy for any kind for relief. That stuff made me a zombie, I had to write down when I took it and had to write down other stuff as well.
        If you have surgery, you will never be the same again, and usually not as good as before. It would have to be the last resort for me.

        • Jules says:

          I can take a lot of pain, but back/buttock/hip/thigh spasms that mostly-completely immobilise me, are 6.5-9/10 pain, happen 1-5 times a week, & last minutes to 9 days? Twisting, squirming, want to die AGONY. Life not worth it if I have to go through the worst ones w/o tramadol/oramorph & diazepam.

    • Mike says:

      Me too . I just got into pain management. He wants to do the shots in my neck the pain pills work but if I refuse the shots I’m sure he will take the meds away then what the hell do I do

    • Shonda says:

      Me and to Erica. I few years ago I told my pain management dr. That I didn’t want the injections, they didn’t help relieve the pain, at all. He booted me from the practice.

    • Misty says:

      Erica, do you trust your primary care physician? If so, talk to him/her about this concern and see if they can advise you and possibly ease your mind. They may help you by explaining what an “adverse event” means and by looking into exactly how rare these events are. Or has there been any recent research that shows whether these events are causally related or not.

      And if you do not trust your primary doctor, why not? That would be incredibly sad.

  4. Kathy says:

    I just had the last of three yesterday reading this scares me . I go to a very reputable doctor in a major teaching hospital and they are doing these weekly if not more often .

  5. Darla says:

    Wow, this is crazy news to me, I have had 7 of these injections in the last year and a half, was told by the doc that did them that their were no dangers in this procedure.

    • GG says:

      Darla…I have always been told that one could not have more than 3 of these annually. I’m very surprised you’ve had so many in a relatively short period of time.

      No cause for alarm. Perhaps I was given false info but you might want to look into it.

      • Victoria says:

        Darla I also had a series of 3 shots in 2014 for low back pain and also was told I couldn’t have any more for awhile. Thank God I have been pain free until just a couple weeks ago. I can handle that for now. The way they work, it’s different so the dr. can’t even guarantee it will work. You have to make your own decision about whether to risk having them and praying to God they work. I wish you all the luck in the world.

      • Amanda says:

        No you right. I had two in my upper shoulders for my neck. Wants to give two more end of this month lower back for spinal area. Seems to work somewhat and at time don’t. Movement in neck is better but went to get one in my knee also but from a surgeon who says I need surgery but insurance won’t approve till I have these shots and therapy first. He refused to give to me when I told him pain management gave me two in my shoulder 2 weeks before and also had me on a steroid pack for 6 days. He told me that is way too much for my body. He was very upset about the injections already given and said no more than 3 a year.

      • Cindy says:

        I had 6 in one year. The only thing that helps, but they usually only last a month or two. Now I’m nervous to have more…

      • Lyn says:

        My Pain management center says I can get up to 3 a year, so far I get 1 about every 9 to 10 months when they wear off.

    • laurie kinney says:

      If there was no danger you won’t have to sign that paper before every one you got.

  6. Cindy says:

    I have been having these for years. It is the only thing keeping me from pain that I could not live with. They want to take away pain medications and now this. What will we be we be left with? Nothing, but illegal drugs, really this is not the answer.

  7. Alta Hanlon says:

    I have had 6 of these over the course of 3 yrs. Strange how it was after the injections that I developed burning pain in my lower legs and feet. These injections are not worth the risk. I can’t be sure if the injections caused this, but this is what happened.

    • Shari says:

      Please get checked for Adhesive Arachnoiditis. These are initial symptoms. It can be seen on an MRI and diagnosed.

    • Bill says:

      Having the same issues.. I had two injections Nov 2017 and Jan 2018 in c8 section between C7-T1 now I get a burning sensation in my left leg and it’ll go numb for a few seconds

  8. Jeanne says:

    Well if we don’t get those anymore and don’t get opiods what are we suppose to do. Oh I always forget they do not care . I have had these for years sometimes they help some. Kelly is right it is like herding cattle but one can only take so much pain.

  9. Kathy says:

    You know I never thought of it that way but your right. As tight as insurance if they could find a way to deny something they will and they just paid less the co-pay for a series of 3 sometimes lines get mixed up and info gets twisted, hopefully that’s what is going on and it will work out soon .

  10. Neelloc says:

    I had a few into my sacroiliac joint which didn’t help for very long maybe 30 days.
    But I just had one in my S1 area and it definitely helped.

  11. Fleming says:

    I get shots every months

  12. Fleming says:

    The shots hurt

  13. Shari says:

    Please, PLEASE do NOT agree to these injections. I have had ADHESIVE ARACHNOIDITIS, also known as Chronic Spinal Menengitis, caused by a Myelogram and two ESIs since 2001. It is incurable and the most devastating disease imaginable. Please be informed. Our AA group has been fighting hard to get the FDA to FINALLY put these warnings out to the public,

    • Theresa says:

      I too was diagnosed with Adhesive Arachnoiditis after receiving multiple esi’s. I tell everyone to stay away from the injections as they are only a patch for your pain, if they work, and worse case scenario you wind up with AA. I have never felt such burning and horrendous pain in my life and would not wish it on my worst enemy. If I was informed at the time of getting these injections, I would have never, ever gotten them.

      • Desiree says:

        How can you find out if you have AA ?

      • Cathy says:


        says that if you have no improvement after two he refuses to give a third. However if you have improvement he will give a third.. Mine flares up about once a year and I’ve since ask my physician to try a high dose oral steroid first to see if it will clear it up…ALWAYS DOES

  14. Shari says:

    They are NOT approved. It’s right on the label and has been for MANY years. Please, PLEASE do NOT agree to these injections. I have had ADHESIVE ARACHNOIDITIS, also known as Chronic Spinal Menengitis, caused by a Myelogram and two ESIs since 2001. It is incurable and the most devastating disease imaginable. Please be informed. Our AA group has been fighting hard to get the FDA to FINALLY put these warnings out to the public,

    • Cathy says:


    • Kayhy says:

      I was suppose to get a mylogram a while back but once I researched it it scared me to death! I was already so weak from the pain an not beable to sleep o had my son take me to the ER..i told my Dr. I just can’t have a needle inserted into my spine ..i knew the risks

    • Mary Bradley says:

      Where can I get more information on ADHESIVE ARACHNOIDITIS – Chronic Spinal Menengitis?

  15. Willis Simms says:

    I have had this series of shots over the three years, and the only thing that it helped was the provider’s bank account. No harmful offsets to date.

  16. sonia keller says:

    I’ve had both neck and lower back done a few times. No adverse reactions and a lot less pain.

  17. Cheryl ONeill says:

    I totally agree with Shari.I have Adhesive Arachnoiditis also and is a life changer it is horrific and no doctor ever informed me of such risk!

  18. Lisa Peoples says:

    I’ve had these shots for the past 4 years, 1st year seemed to help some. But the last 3 years I’ve had weird pain in different spots. Very painful I might add. Last MRI fee months ago showed more damage.

  19. Nancy long says:

    If they have enough studies proving steroid injections help with pain insurance will will approve without FDA approval. So wrong!

  20. Daniel says:

    I just had my second in just under two months for an issue at L5/S1 in my back. I suffer from both degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis AND i have a bulging disc there. So, it’s been going on off and on since about 2012 and in total, I’ve had five injections now. They have helped for a period of time but certainly not permanent. And PT has not helped at all. My doctor has told me that because it’s at L5/S1, insurance will outright deny coverage for surgery UNTIL we’ve tried basically every other remedy including the injections. So, I’m at a loss. The pain is absolutely debilitating and pain meds don’t work either so what is a person to do???

  21. mike campbell says:

    i had 2 epidurals in 2007 that paralyzed me waist down .. s-1 to T-11 called epidural abcess caused a staph infection

    • Cristina F Shockley-Vierus says:

      Mike , I am so sorry to know this affected you like this. I hope somehow there was compensation for this life changing procedure. Was this procedure mandated for you to continue pain management? Since this has happened, how has the Doctor and medical community handled this situation? I pray your life will become adaptable and you continue to find joy and happiness with everything on a daily basis.

    • Mari says:

      May I ask who your doctor was?

  22. judy says:

    I just had one this morning and have had many over the years Never have I had any issues I do believe they are safe they want fix your problem if you need surgery.. Maybe thats the problems these knife happy doctors arent getting as many patients.

  23. Jen says:

    I was dropped from pain management because I becan so I’ll i refused any more steroid injections and nerve ablations. I researched Kratom. There are private groups on Facebook and testimonials on you tube. Kratom is helping control my chronic back and nerve pain. These doctors are nothing but greedy! They don’t care about their patients. Kratom saves lives!

  24. GG says:

    Stupid question, but I have fibro and get these injections in my knees. Article concentrated on back and neck, so I wonder how safe for knees these steroidal injections are. Anyone?
    Also, I try to keep up on some medical journals (studies show, btw, that doctors as a whole, do not keep up with latest research, even in their own fields. I find that stunning. Explains a lot, tho.

    Anyway, in these journals I’ve been reading for years that a major problem with these injections into spine, or wherever, is that doctors do not use patients x-rays as a guide of where exactly to inject. I insisted my doctor use my xray when I had some in my lower back but she was not happy about it. This seems like horrible standard of care.


    • Marilyn Russo says:

      I have Fibro and had these injections in my knees. Did not help at all. I finally ended up have a knee replacement and that didn’t even help. All I know is that they raise your sugar for a day. I just gave up on any shots.

    • Michelle R. says:

      I have spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, L5 sacralization, and herniated disks at L1/2, L2/3, L3/4, L4/5, and L5/S1. I’ve had 3 lumbar sacral epidurals in the last year. They have helped me tremendously. My doctor does the procedure under fluoroscopy so he can see exactly where he’s injecting the medication. I usually hurt a little worse for about 2 to 3 days and then the pain in my back and legs subsides completely. I work in the medical field and have patient contact, therefor, opioid pain medications are not an option for me. The injections have really helped me. People have different circumstances and can have different reactions to medications. The best thing you can do as a patient is be your own advocate, ask questions, clarify information you don’t understand, and play a role in deciding with your doctor what the best course of treatment is for YOU. Best wishes to each of you struggling with chronic pain…the struggle is real!

  25. Iris says:

    My broken tail bone didn’t heal back after the third break. One at 15, 31 and 57. In 2007 I started getting tail bone injections. On the average of 4-6 times a year. The last two years I have slowed them down to twice a year. My Doctor, said quality of life has to be considered, so I moved them back up to 3 times a year. I don’t take pain pills because I don’t want to get hooked. So to me, it is half a dozen of one or the other. I know that sitting in a chair or riding in a car at a 90 degree angle is excruciating pain. So I welcome the shots. But will continue to follow up on side affects. This is the first time I have ever heard of problems.

  26. Yvette says:

    I’m too afraid to get them. My primary told me to NEVER get neck injections because he has seen people die from it. At the pain clinic, I heard the doctor ( who is actually an anesthesiologist), tell the Nurse Practioner to book me for nerve blocks for my thoracic and lumbar pain. I haven’t been back. I have such bad muscle spasms from scoliosis, that he sees where they are on my back, even before feeling for the “knots”. I went for cortisone injections right into the painful spasm trigger point areas 5 times. They helped for less than a week each time. I won’t go back. My pain IS chronic, but at least I can walk. Too risky for me despite the pain.

  27. Mitzi Wright says:

    I get these shots because I have had 5 surgeries and don’t want to have any more for a while.

  28. Taniya says:

    Neurontin has MANY bad side effects also so nothing is perfect.

  29. De McNeill says:

    I had several of these a few years ago for a herniated disc in my lower back. The first two didn’t help much, but the third one was when I received some relief. Had about 2 more after that. That has been about 5 years ago. I try to do some exercises. I did start having leg cramps in the leg that I was having pain in after having one of the injections.

  30. Brenda says:

    Please stay away from Neurontin! I took it for 3 months over a year ago and I still have problems with my memory. If I had known it could possibly cause this kind of problem I wouldn’t have taken it. My pain Dr. at the time didn’t tell me about any of the side effects just that it worked for him so it will work for me. Doctors are using these medicines for purposes that they were not intended to be used for. Neurontin is a seizure medicine but is also used for fibromyalgia. It was never to be used for pain manangement.

  31. Sandra Freeman says:

    I had my first Epidural Injection in my back several weeks ago, and it has done wonders for me, it is such a relief to be free of this back pain, and I can enjoy life again, as the constant pain was certainly affecting my quality of life, I couldn’t stand or walk for very long before I had to sit down, I would do it again.

  32. Sharon kettler says:

    My husband had been getting them in his back for sciatica. For over a year. Then his eye site got bad. And it is steadily getting worst. He is going blind..

  33. Katharine says:

    My orthopedic doctor recommended this to me when I couldn’t take the pain anymore, i had been a regular chiropractor patient for years and that wasn’t getting it, either, but I opted to try a new chiropractor that has keep my severe pain at bay for the last 2 years. Also physical therapy for awhile and now I do my exercises and see my new chiropractor.

  34. Jay Nichols says:

    Hmmm, if the injections are not approved by the FDA, why are the insurance companies paying for it? I had 2 sets of injections by extremely reputable surgeons. Are you telling me that they did unapproved ILLEGAL procedure for which the insurance company paid (and I paid my share too)?

  35. Betty Chapman says:

    I have had these injections for years and they only help for a few months but I have headaches 24/7 some days worse than others. My pain management doctor has cut me back so much on my pain meds that I stay in pain.

  36. Cathy says:

    You always have the right to refuse treatment. Doctors have the right to refuse to treat you if they feel it’s not in your best interest or if they feel they could lose their license. They have rights just as you do. It’s not blackmail. You have the right to seek out another physician who will do what you want although it may not be in your best interest. American freedom is great and goes both ways.

  37. Paul Redd says:

    All pain treatments have risks. Injections, NSAIDs, Tylenol, Opiates. They all do damage and have risks. Pain patients just need to be informed, then make the choices.

    If you take away all the treatments, you just end up with chronic pain patients committing suicide. Maybe that’s the goal here with all the alarm ringing – get these patients to drop out now and save everyone money?

    We appreciate the info, but don’t take away our choices. I just came from an injection – thank goodness.

  38. Amanda parks says:

    My husband was getting these he got two of them at his orthopedic doctor who I wouldn’t take my dog to, and the last one he got on a Monday starting feeling sick after, and two days later died from a massive heart attack. I still think it was due to the shot he had received.

    • peachy100 says:

      Amanda parks My precious friend dropped dead in his yard a couple of days after 7 seven injections on one day… cervical epidural corticosteroid injections… 7… SEVEN at one time!! Deaths following these injections are NOT being counted, tracked, reported etc… soooo there is no way to know how many people are dying or have died from these injections… The injections are very dangerous and probably caused, contributed to, hastened your husband’s death!!

  39. Tracy says:

    I get an epidural injection every 3 months for chronic pain from Sciatic Nerve issues that no surgeon will touch, plus I take pain pills in between shots. What am I supposed to do? Suffer? No thanks, I’ll decide what’s best for MY body.

  40. Martha says:

    I had an injection 2 weeks ago, pain never left. Having bee like stings on site. Never again

  41. Lory says:

    5 shots in 3 years now pain free

  42. richard van bueren says:

    i had a shot in my cervical at va med center..great pain clinic..very thorough..wonderful..plenty of physical therapy and manipulation..no side effects..my wife had the same done for her neck by her pain doctor..so happy to see her pain free. i am scepticle of some of these studies..there is risk in all procedures. thank God we took the path we did.

  43. Verena says:

    I was forced to get injections as well with my Workers’ Comp injury and a few years later, I got Cataracts in both my eyes and developed a non-benign tumor behind my neck (buffalo hump/Lipoma). Had to have a Artificial Eye Lens Implant and buffalo hump is still there because I have to pay for removal myself. NONE OF THE INJECTIONS WORKED FOR ANY OF MY PAIN !

  44. Barbara says:

    I received my first shot last week ,the spasms in my leggs wake me up and my headache lasted 4 days. Ended up at the ER…after reading thses comments that will be my first and the last one…

  45. Mark says:

    Wow I have had 10+ injections. The last time I had a series of 3 within 15 days. (After having endured 2 sleepless night) Long story short that was appox 10 ago have not needed any since. Would I get one again YES if needed.

  46. Carolyn d woodcock says:

    I had several Epidural injections,some relief,and then my Family physician said I did not need to be taking them,I have fibro,Thyroid and bone spurs on my tail bone,I do not know what painfree is,I am not on narcotics,I live day by day by the Grace of God.

  47. Liz says:

    I feel that patients should have the option for epidurals or not. I have mine done at outpatient pain clinic where it’s always done by X-ray to make sure where and how deep it’s going. Like any medication or procedure ALWAYS read the Fine Print and adverse reactions. Anyone at anytime can have that. I’ve been in so much pain that I’ve ask God to take me or give me relief. Unless your insurance requires your personal physician to make a referral anyone can make their own referral to a pain doctor or clinic.

  48. Dale Little says:

    I am a practicing physical therapist and have worked with patient’s with chronic pain for over 20 years. Sometimes the injections work and sometimes they do not, this is the nature of healthcare. I recommend the most conservative approach possible with the least amount of risk and side effects. In my practice, there are two devices that have been extraordinarily effective. They are shock wave therapy and deep tissue laser therapy. In addition, postural education and core stabilization exercises in conjunction with spinal manipulation can be very effective. In some cases steroid injections can help you tolerate or achieve results with PT but not necessarily.
    I hope this helps.

    • peachy100 says:

      Dale Little, You are right!! My precious friend suddenly dropped dead at home after 7 Seven ESIs in cervical spine!! Very dangerous! and so many of the Pain clinics are motivated by $$$$$$$ rather than the well being f the patient!! Assembly line conveyor belt medicine!!!!

  49. Venkatesh Prasad J B says:

    Walking and driving in a street is also extremely dangerous
    One can lose life limbs or be permanently incapacitated due an adverse reaction called accident
    Not w tell me how many will stop walking or Riding

  50. tom G. says:

    my right knee had been painful for over a year when I had back pain. I had shot in back and was pain free in both back and knee for 2 years. I then had another shot over a year ago and still pain free. this doctor gives shots while under x-ray.

  51. Carla Whitehouse says:

    I had one for sciatica on both sides the right side did not do well I had excruciating pain right after could barely walk out of the Dr’s office and had to take oxycodone and a muscle relaxer as soon as i got home still did not help very much. Had a radio frequency ablation done helped some on the left side not much on the right side. i still get muscle cramps in my leg on the right side.

  52. Barbara VanGordon says:

    I wonder if this is the reason for my headaches that start at the top of my spine, and go up the back of my head. I get them when ever I am looking up or down or eating. And my vertigo and balance is so much worse.
    I had injections in my neck about where the headache starts, and they even did injections in the back of my head.

  53. Gretchen says:

    Well I’m here to tell you I had this done for years it did not help then a couple of years back the Dr kept missing up and the last time he did it to me he actually missed up bad enough it made me go in to respiratory failure and I died on them cause I stoped breathing end up in the isu will breathing tubes I tried to tell them something was going on the nurse said next time they need to give me valium so I don’t have panic attacks and then that’s when I couldn’t talk no more or move and then I went down hill could not breath so now hospital wanting to make me pay for this high price bill I won’t do it and up later having to get another stent in my heart cause cause they took me off my blood thinner to long but there is know Dr out there that will ever do this to me again and now I get to hurt all the time cause they won’t give me my pain med back cause I need to see a pain Dr I will not ever do that again so I hurt all the time I really want to a layer to get this Dr for me

    • Dale Little says:

      Your situation is why conservative management is so important. Find a really good physical therapist they may be able to help you. Here’s what to look for: Look for someone with credentials of DPT or at least a Masters level of training, next look for someone with any of these credentials: (FAAOMPT, OCS, MTC, COMT) Call them and interview them find out about there background and experience. You can look these credentials up online. There are some very sharp people out there who can help you without drugs or surgery. It’s not a quick fix so something do take time.

      • Kendra says:

        You are so right. Exercise has saved me. You must strengthen your core to get the pressure off your spine.

  54. Karen Galbreath says:

    I HAD THIS PROCEDURE AND BECAME PARALYZED. I do think people should be able to choose whether or not they want it, though, but I will be staying away for the rest of my life. I had emergency surgery which reversed my paralyzation, but I was told that if I would have waited much longer, I would’ve been paralyzed for life.

    • Dale Little says:

      There are risks to drugs and surgery! They don’t wan to tell you too much. All I can say is as a PT I have never paralyzed to killed anyone! I have made them a bit sore (early in my career) I’ve gotten better with time. I find less is best; I tell my patient’s “you can do more tomorrow – let see how you feel after today’s treatment / exercise etc. Best wishes to you.

  55. Shirley Wells says:

    My husband got these for at least 10 years or more then had a n eyebleed that nearly ruined his eyesight now is not allowed any type of steroid even on the skin

  56. Miss Aliki Jones says:

    Hi everyone, I had severe back pain for over 12 years and was given the cortisone this did not work for me but when you low in mood and in severe pain you will try things you wouldn’t normally want to have. But this did not work and the inplications are high, not to mention its not a long term solution. In the end like most people I tried several things acupuncture, oestopathic, chiropractice treatments and so much more. In the end I had a Rossiter System treatment and don’t get me wrong it was horrendously painful but I knew of no other option, so worked the treatment to my max. Guess what, it worked, no druitin patches, no injections, no pills came near. this was over 7/8 years ago. I then trained at this treatment and have helped many other, I’m so please. Again, not all treatments work for everyone but this one is well worth a try before going down this route of pain relief/or not.

    • Jules says:

      Hope you don’t mind… Is Rossiter OK for people with Hypermobility-EDS?

  57. Michele Jansz says:

    Steroids help with inflammation but they break down bone. Now if doctors would educate their patients on the side effects that can happen years later, this conversation might not happen. How many doctors are going to the bank on these shots but NOT telling their patients about bone loss? Teeth are a form of bone to, so have you been to the dentist every 15 mins? Or did they educate on diet? Or did they ask if you had a family hx of deg. disc disease, spinal stenosis before the shots? See it helps in the immediate, but then there’s reality. See steroids and bone loss. See lupron and vision problems…Both are steroids. So, I had one bone disease, now I have 4. The resolution for doctors was to patient blame, dropping patients who reported side effects, and to flat out dump them. In order for it to treat a disease, it has to treat the disease which they do NOT do. They treat symptoms in the immediate only. It’s bs.

    • peachy100 says:

      Michele Jansz.. I agree with you completely!! It seems there are not many physicians who diagnose the CAUSE of spine pain…probably either they do not know how or they do not want to spend the time & effort to diagnose .. so they follow cookbook style trial and error and are paid very well for doing so.. My precious friend suddenly dropped dead a couple of days after being injected with 7 (seven yes) at one time in his spine..(outpatient).. He was healthy.. only health issue was spine pain!! Deaths are NOT counted, reported etc etc following ESIs in spine via outpatient …SOOOOO there is NO way to know HOW MANY deaths are caused, contributed to, or hastened by these spinal Epidural Steroid Injections!!

  58. Kendra says:

    I had severe sciatic pain in lower back and down my legs from a herniated disc. I used chiropractic medicine and work out to strengthen my core. It has truly done wonders. I rarely even have the tingling from my sciatic nerve anymore. It is hard work and I will have to exercise the rest of my life but it is so worth it to not be in pain.

  59. Your site is so fantastic. I’m going to come back here again.

  60. Linda says:

    Here’s My deal I have SEVERE Birth defects .of the Spine . Had Spinal Fusion in 95 pulled and lifted on others until I pulled3 pins lose . can’t be put back . hate Pills but also the Shots , recently took 2 shots . I also use Kratom with my Family Dr’s Ok !! Several Members of My Family use it . Read the Facts for Yourself !!All the PPL that run the Pain Clinics and Suboxone Clinics Don’t want to use it because They are getting a “Kickback ” from the Drug Companies.I know Several that use “WEED” instead of Pills . Try different things and do “Whatever “helps Your Pain.

    • Seraphim Black says:

      Linda: does Kratom work for you? I tried it once, but it just made my anxiety worse. I’ve heard if you use more, the effects become more mellow. I tried every combination of cannabis possible, but no real relief. I was just high all the time. And then the terror-anxiety would kick in sometimes. Pot may work for some, but some of us can’t tolerate it. It’s sad that big-wig doctors recommend it knowing damn well no insurance company will ever pay for it because it’s Schedule 1. Seems a bit suspicious that doctors are advocating smoking a plant instead of using modern medicine, but whatever I guess.

  61. Michele Jansz says:

    If a doctor corners you into taking the shots by saying, “Well, then you must not be in that much pain,” negates side effects, blames you for using CBD for neuropathy, it’s manipulation and then there’s a fact. It’s a matter of “informed consent” and that just freaks them out. Now comes the fun part. The pharmacies ran too. Next thing ya’ know, the medication you’ve been taking per direction for years is not “in” and they flag you. Frankly I broke out the flicker factor.

  62. Kerstin Zyla says:

    Just fabulous. Who wrote this and how can we get more?

  63. Rachel Carson says:

    I am one of the unfortunate ones who had a dangerous reaction to my epidural steroid injections… although they haven’t ‘officially’ admitted it)
    After having 3 lots of epidural steriod injections 18-20yrs ago I ended up with epidural venous thrombosis (clots in my spine) which could have killed me if they moved to my heart or lungs -they are still in the epidural cavity after 18yrs so supposedly I’m safe… I hope!!
    But it is also suspected that the epidural venous thrombosis resulted in me getting cauda equina syndrome (nerve disorder) so I have a permanent suprapubic catheter & need support walking because my legs can collapse without warning… I can only walk short distances before needing a wheelchair. Not to mention I have to take far more opiods now then I did before my epidural steroid injections when I only had prolapsed discs…

  64. Misty says:

    This makes me so sad. You are going to live in pain because of scare-mongering on the Internet.

  65. Lauri says:

    My pain specialist tried an epidural on me just a week ago. I had a cortisone shot to my hip 3 months prior with no difficulties, it helped the sciatic pain for about 6 weeks. The epidural was not a success, I was in so much pain even with the lidocaine, I told him to stop. I was getting pain and muscle cramps all down my legs. He stopped but did not pull the needle. He said let’s take a little break, about 2 minutes later the pain was back, stronger than before and I ordered him to stop. He acted like it was no more painful than a bee sting, he also looked disgusted and told me to make an appointment with my orthopedist, who sent me to the pain doctor. I had a headache for 3 days after the failed procedure. Now I’m waiting to see if he’ll do surgery on my lower back (L1-5 are involved). I’ll never try another epidural.

  66. brenda rawlins says:

    OH NO! I had one of these by AOC last December. I have very bad Degenerative Disc Disease and like a few others could not get comfortable sitting or laying down. They Orthopedic Doctor would not write an RX for pain relief since the government has banned them! I had relief one month after my injection and plan to have another one if the pain gets Horrible again!

  67. Sherry Hill says:

    I had one in the past, but found out I couldn’t take them as I am allergic to any kind of steroids. I break out into a rash & itch like crazy.

  68. Dejah says:

    I got these injections for ten solid years and they were exceptionally safe. Plus they were VERY effective for pain. I would have been crippled from nerve pain without them.

    What they did NOT warn me about was the emotional side effects from cortisone and how long they lasted.
    1) severe irritability and raginess
    2) months and months

    Eventually the shots do stop working and when that happened, the new doctor doing them sent me to a chiropractor who adjusted my back into much better function than the shots ever did. He FIXED my back. But in the perverse calculus of “health” insurance, I had to pay for that out of pocket and the chiropractor had to cut his rates so that I could afford it.

  69. Anita Leaver says:

    This is scarey to read considering after my son’s second pain management injection ….he lost 100 percent of his hearing in his left ear…coincidence or side effect????

  70. Alisha Jackson says:

    My husband has been taking these shots. It only lasts for a while then it’s back to sever pain. We’ve been to many neurosurgeons and some will do the surgery but after so many shots. Some wont do it cause ” it’s not bad enough”. If they could only see him when hes in severe pain. And they wont even give him meds that could at least give him a break in the pain. He knows the meds won’t take it away. But at least they could give him something just to dull it enough so he can function. I dont like the shots cause it seems with every shot, after it wears off the pain is worse than last time. He has 11 discs that are rather herniated or deteriorating. We’ve had multiple MRI ‘s and xrays. And they see it’s getting worse and they send him to physical therapy. ( which dosent help, he does more at home. So you tell me.

  71. Athena James says:

    I just got my first injection in my thoracic spine. I have osteoporosis and suffered 4 compression fractures when I lifted a 40 pound bag of cat litter. I cannot take narcotics, and I wouldn’t want to, besides the doctors are not wanting to prescribe them anyway. I suffered for 8 months with pain until I finally decided to try an epidural. The doctor is wonderful, she explained everything and answered all my question. The worst part of the procedure was getting up on the table in the surgery suite, the pain was awful. Once that was done, the doctor began to work her magic. The needle going in my back felt like nothing more than when they draw your blood for a lab test. She first put in a numbing agent then waited a few minutes then administered the steroids. Of course she told me I had to be perfectly still because it was a very dangerous site to be injected, and she gave me time to relax and so she could find the exact spot. The pain is so much more tolerable now, I wish I had done this sooner. She said we could repeat this in as little as 2 weeks if necessary. So I am waiting to see what will happen until I see her again with a follow up in two weeks.
    I would recommend these epidurals for pain. They are much better than swallowing opiates every day, and you won’t get relief for this kind of pain.

  72. Edward says:

    I had 4 epidural injections with in 6 months and got type 2 diabetes..that stuffs bad news

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