5 reason to avoid a steroid injection for your herniated disc, or at least after you have tried EVERYTHING else.
1: It cam make your herniation much worse Steroids can herniate your disc to a full extrusion causing severe immediately. Recently on the request of a patient with a herniated disc and leg pain I sent her to a pain specialist for a steroid injection. While the steroid was being injected in it caused the rest of the nuclear material(what was left of the internal disc) to immediately herniate to extrude all the material out against the nerve root causing a massive increase in pain to the point where she ended up in surgery shortly thereafter.
2: Steroids inhibit the laying down of connective tissue that helps give you good scar formation where the tear was. All injuries to the disc involve torn annular tissue. This allows the internal fluid to leak out causing pain. This tissue has to heal. Steroids shut this healing process down. So the effect may be giving you pain relief at the expense of long term problems.
3: Very little benefit in the long term. There is very little benefit in the long term of preventing re-occurrence.
4: It has the possibility of accelerating degenerative changes. Due to the inhibition of our own repair mechanism it actually potentates the acceleration of degenerative changes. This is why you cannot have more than three injections to the same area per year.
5: Even the worst disc extrusions and herniation often heal without injection or surgical interventions. This is well documented. What's most uncomfortable is the window of healing is rather long. It can take up to 1 year for full resolution of pain and disc herniation’s can leave permanent changes in how you move and use your core system if your lazy and don't rehab properly.