How Effective is an Epidural for Back Pain?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Epidurals are typically very effective for the relief of back pain. In fact, this type of back pain treatment usually proves effective for a long period of time. A person may have significant relief from back pain for weeks or even months after receiving an epidural for back pain. Some people even feel relief for up to a year following an epidural. The length of time epidural pain relief lasts and its effectiveness may vary, however, based on the severity of a person’s back pain and the drugs used in treatment.

When a person has an epidural for back pain, two types of medication are normally injected into the epidural space, which surrounds the dural sac. The dural sac contains both spinal fluid and nerve roots. In most cases, an epidural for back pain consists of both a local anesthetic and some type of steroid medication. This often proves far more effective than oral medications that only last for a few hours at a time. In most cases, an epidural for back pain provides long-term relief; some people may experience pain relief for months and even a year after treatment.


After receiving an epidural for back pain, some people may believe the injected medications have failed to work or provided very little pain relief. In most cases, however, this is usually because they haven’t given the medication enough time to work. It is normal for a patient to fail to notice pain relief for a couple of days after treatment, and the full effects of the medication may not be felt until about two weeks have passed. After the medication effects have peaked, however, patients often experience significant relief from back pain.

An epidural for back pain may be so effective because it affects a person’s nerve roots. Epidurals help decrease the swelling of a person’s nerve roots, which translates into less pain. It is important to note, however, that an epidural cannot cure back problems; it can only provide temporary pain relief.

It is difficult to predict how effective an epidural will be for dealing with back pain. The majority of individuals who are given this treatment, however, do experience at least some pain relief. The success of this treatment may be due to the fact that the medications used in epidural treatments are focused on the source of pain transmission rather than being spread throughout the body as in oral medication treatments.


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Post 4

I had absolutely no relief from them and it seems odd that in other Western countries such as UK and Australia studies have shown them to be fairly useless. Even in the US, bioethicists are stating that they are overused and studies show no need in most of them except they are good money makers with costs on the low side of $700 per shot.

Post 3
You never know how well an epidural is going to work for back pain, it's different for each person and it's different each time. My first epidural was very effective, the second and third ones, not so much.
Post 2

@turquoise-- Don't be disappointed just yet! Epidural injections are very effective for chronic lower back pain, but it takes some time for it to start working.

I had an epidural shot last year and my pain was actually worse for the first few days after the shot. I didn't start seeing its effects until a week later and it got better and better after that. My pain was completely gone after the third week, and knock on wood, I am still pain-free.

So please give yourself some more time, I'm sure that the epidural is going to help.

Post 1

I guess I'm the exception when it comes to epidural for back pain, because I still have severe back pain after receiving a shot of epidural last week.

I thought that the shot was going to be a cure for my lower back pain, at least for six months or so, but it didn't happen. I did feel a little better during the day of the shot and the day after that. But the after the third day, things just went downhill.

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