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Hi. I suffer from chronic back pain. I was prescribed with epidural steroid injections. I would like to hear from somebody with experience what are steroid injections side effects?


Hi. I was diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis. Eventually, I will have to go on a surgery, but now I still take epidural steroid injections for pain. I feel no pain now, but there are some risks and side effects that epidural steroid injections may cause. Risks of such steroid injections include infection, bleeding, nerve damage and wet tap. Side effects from steroids are more common if you take injections daily, for several months. Side effects of epidural steroid injections include decrease in immunity, high blood sugar, cataracts, increased appetite (weight gain), stomach ulcers, arthritis of the hips and transient flushing.


I've had two rounds of LESI's in the last month and have gained 15 lbs; I cannot stop eating. I had my second set of injections last week. My doctor said it's customary to have three rounds of injections to achieve the best results. How long does the increased appetite last? I am beginning to feel some relief from the pain but won't be able to wear any of my clothes when I return to work.


I had 2 series of injections done. I am very unhappy, because i was not aware of the side effects. But here is an article about 1 of the side effects that I am now being tested for. I have all the symptoms. Had I been informed of this risk, I would not have done the injections.

Last Updated: August 24, 2004
Topic Overview
What is Cushing's syndrome?

Cushing's syndrome is a rare disorder that develops when the body is exposed to too much of the hormone cortisol. Cushing's syndrome is also known as hypercortisolism.

Normally, cortisol levels increase through a chain reaction of hormones. The brain's hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to make adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Then, ACTH stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.

Cortisol affects almost every area of the body and is particularly important in regulating blood pressure and metabolism.

But if your body makes too much cortisol—or if you take certain medications that act like cortisol—you may develop a variety of symptoms. Cushing's syndrome may cause weight gain, skin changes, and fatigue and lead to such serious conditions as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and osteoporosis. If untreated, Cushing's syndrome can cause death.

What causes Cushing's syndrome?

Cushing's syndrome may be caused by:

Taking corticosteroid medication after an organ transplant or for long-term (chronic) conditions such as lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or other diseases that cause inflammation. This is the most common cause of Cushing's syndrome.
Small, noncancerous (benign) tumors on the pituitary gland. This is called Cushing's disease and is the second most common cause of Cushing's syndrome.
Benign and cancerous tumors on the adrenal glands that make cortisol.
Benign and cancerous tumors on the lung and less often the pancreas that make ACTH. These organs normally do not make ACTH.
What are the symptoms?

Weight gain and obesity—especially around the waist—are the most common symptoms. Because cortisol affects almost all body systems, many symptoms may develop. They include:

Muscle weakness.
Changes in the skin, such as bruising, acne, and dark purple-red stretch marks on the abdomen called striae.
Changes in mood, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Extra fat on the back of the neck and upper back.
Loss of muscle tone.
Menstrual irregularity.
Abnormal hair growth (such as facial hair in women).
The signs and symptoms of Cushing's syndrome generally develop gradually.

Sometimes alcoholism, depression, panic attacks, obesity, or other conditions can cause symptoms similar to Cushing's syndrome; this is known as pseudo-Cushing's syndrome. Symptoms usually stop when these conditions are treated. Antiviral therapies used in the treatment of HIV also may cause pseudo-Cushing's syndrome.

How is Cushing's syndrome diagnosed?

Your health professional will use a medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests to diagnose Cushing's syndrome. During the physical examination, he or she will look for signs of the condition. The medical history involves questions about any symptoms you have, what medications you are taking, and, if you are a woman, whether your menstrual periods are regular.

If your health professional thinks you may have Cushing's syndrome, you will have laboratory tests to check the level of cortisol in your blood and urine. Further testing may be needed to find the cause of high cortisol levels.

How is it treated?

If corticosteroid medication is causing Cushing's syndrome, your health professional will recommend lowering the dose or gradually stopping the medication. It may take a while for the signs and symptoms of Cushing's syndrome to go away. If a tumor is causing the condition, it must be removed through surgery. Medications may be used to lower cortisol levels when tumors cannot be removed.

Living with Cushing's syndrome means making lifestyle changes to prevent weight gain and strengthen muscles and bones. See your health professional regularly to check for other conditions that may develop because of Cushing's syndrome, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about Cushing's syndrome:
What is Cushing's syndrome?
What causes Cushing's syndrome?
What are the symptoms of Cushing's syndrome?
Who is affected by Cushing's syndrome?

Being diagnosed:
How will my doctor diagnose Cushing's syndrome?

Getting treatment:
How is Cushing's syndrome treated?
Will I need surgery?

Living with Cushing's syndrome:
What can I do to treat Cushing's syndrome at home?


Hi, I had a 3 series of Epidural Steroid Injections in November 2006 and 1 Facet Joint procedure in March 2007. The side effects can range from increasing your Anxiety Levels. Especially if you have been diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder. Also insomnia and headaches. I get the Injections because I was diagnosed with Chronic Back pain at the L4-L5 level. My back surgeon said basically that my disc has degenerated that I need a fusion at that level. The Injections are buying me time because I don't want the surgery. They do help with the pain, just beware of the side effects. Increased pain at the Injection sites, some bleeding and swelling which will go away after about 3 days. If you want more information on the topic you can e-mail me at




I am having my 7th epidural injection on the 1-30-2008. The doctor has spaced my injections about 6 weeks. I am worried about the side effects of long term use. I have PTSD, lots of anxiety. On the last injection my GERD acted out really bad. I was in the ER x 2 and had to call 911 two times to take me to the ER. I felt like there was a vice under my breast cutting me into and felf there was a very large person sitting on my chest and could not breath. It was found that my GERD was the problem. I lost 50 pounds in six weeks.Code:



I recently had a cortisone shot for my knee. Within an hour I was wheezing, had a rash, was coughing and had an endless headache. Turned out that the cortisone used was Prednisone...a medication I had a known allergy to.

Make sure if you have drug allergies you find out what type of cortisone they are using!


Wow, I really wish I would have found this blog last fall; before I had two sets of facet injections. Almost three years ago; I was sitting at an intersection waiting for traffic to clear when I was hit from behind. Ever since that accident; I have suffered and been treating for neck, shoulder, and back pain. With the treatments and munipulations, I ended up with chronic lower lumbar back pain. Last fall, my doctor suggested facet injections into the joints in the lower lumbar. I did all kinds of research on facet injections but never found any real good reason NOT to have them. Therefore, I had the first set mid to late September '07. Within a few weeks of the first set of injections, I started to notice that my hair was growing really fast and went from an out of control wave to a somewhat decent natural curl. Not such a bad thing to have happen. However, as time went on, I started to notice darkening of hair above my top lip. I'm a female and have never had a mustache before. Then, I endured a second set of facet injections into the same joints in mid November. The doctors wanted me to have the second set in October already; but, I had to push it out to November because I was sick. Then, in early to mid December I started to have a lot a strange things going on. I gained almost 20 pounds instantly and I hadn't changed my diet at all. Also, my hair was growing like crazy and I started to get sideburns. My menstral cycle went way out of wack and I had my period for three weeks straight, it went off for 1 week, came back for two weeks, went off for two weeks, back for a few days, and then nothing for a month. By mid January, I was at my wits end and figured it had to be the steroids but the doctors kept saying that it wasn't. They said I was pre-menopausal. So, I had blood drawn in January and was checked for paramenopause and had my thyroid checked. No, I'm not pre-menopausal and my thyroid it fine. So, I was sent to an Endocrinologist. Now, I'm up to almost 200 pounds, have long curly hair down to the middle of my back, a slight mustache with fuzzy sideburns and am being told that I probably have Cushings Disease from the injections. Good thing I listened to myself and didn't allow them to give me a third set of injections in January like they wanted to. Now, I'm under going a round of tests that include a 24 hour urine collection and more blood work. And, I'm being told that the only way to get the weight back off will probably be to keep my diet down to around 1100 - 1200 calories per day and exercise. And, it may take a year. That should be fun and very easy to do with chronic back problems... NOT!! Hopefully, my hair won't fall out and I'll at least get to keep my long curly locks. I really wish I would have found this blog last fall. I just hope that my story can help someone else. Doctors keep telling us all that Cushings from sterioid injections is rare; but, look at all of us. If it's not 9 out of 10 patients that get it; then it's rare? Whatever!!!! Good Luck to all of us!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I am so thankful to have found this site. I had steroid injections four weeks ago in both elbows. That night I thought I was losing my mind. In searching the web for answers I stumbled upon this forum and was so relieved to realize I was not losing my mind, it was the injections that had caused all of this. Thank you to all of you who have posted your side effects here. I found very little side effects listed on all the drug websites I went to, so I thought I was going crazy until I found this forum.
My side effects were/are:
profound sudden depression
crying for what seemed like no reason
hot flashes
feverish with no fever
panic attacks
racing heart
worsening of muscle spasms

I may have missed something, but this just about covers it. Had I been warned ahead of time I would have refused the injections, but there was no warning. At the three week mark my pain started coming back. I still can't do any of my regular activities. My kids do all the housework and yard work now. Why don't drs take these things more seriously?

What seems to helping me now are as follows:
FYI--For Your Inflammation from Garden of Life and ginger root helps pain
MSM--nutrients for muscles and tendons
L-Glutamine powder---nutrients for muscle and tendons
Cod liver oil and good bacteria...kefir, yogurt, homemade fermented sauerkraut--this helps me digest things better so I can absorb the nutrients in my food and supplements better.
Inositol---helps the anxiety and panic attacks that I still have, but it's getting better.
Staying out of chocolate and sweets helps my pain levels.

My arms don't hurt as bad as they did before the injections. For that I am thankful. But the warning signs are there that if I don't be very careful, when the steroid wears off I could easily be in the same boat as before.
I will not repeat the injections. I would rather be in pain and have all my marbles than be pain free and feel like I am losing my mind.



I have had ongoing neck/shoulder pain for 2.5 years. It wans't until 6 months ago that they found that the I have hernated disks in my neck. I have gotten three steroid injections since January. I have no relief from the pain, but what I do have is:
Uncontrolable eating - I can't explain it, I eat 24/7, it is like the hunger just doesn't stop and I can control it.
I don't sleep well at all
I get up at least 8 times per night to urinate even when my last drink at night is before 7 p.m.
I am moody, tired and maybe slightly depressed.
I have had vaginal irritations that can't be figured out. My doctor had repeatedly tested me for "everything under the sun" but has been unable to figure out what the irritation is from.

I am thinking this could be related to the steroid injections.


:-D I hate that others are "feeling my pain" but so glad I am not alone.
I went I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia!!! My doctor said it can go with long term chronic pain?!
I too have gained weight for no reason. About 25lbs. mostly in the waist and thighs. I can wake in the morning after 9 hours of restless sleep and go back to sleep within an hour.And from reading others replys, I think I know why I need hair cuts and trimming of face hair. But I have started menopaus since my car accident. Trama induced ovarian failure I was told. Occasionally I have month long periods whick my doctor said should not happen. But two years of blood work has proven it to be true menapaus. (I just turned 40!!)
Also, I have been on anti-depressants for over a year. My injections were a little over a year ago.
WOW! How many of us are there? I am with you all, and you are in my prayers. Keep struggling through, don't stop complaining to the drs.


tinalm1965-- OMG!! I am getting tested for cushings right now. I have had 2 steroid injestions and it didn't occur to me, that could be the cause. My Dr. said it wasn't so I dismissed it awhile back.

WoW! If this is what it is from, how long before the symptoms go away? I also have the insatiable hunger, but when I try to count calories, and do more cardio, I gain weight. It is SO strange!!

Please help! I am SO confused now!


i went through the 3 steroid injections and gained alot of weight and started getting all these stretch marks all over my body it looks disgusting im so embarrassed i went to my eye doctor a few days ago and he told me i might have cushings disease i came home and looked it up online and couldnt believe what i read i have a endocrinology app. in a few days and i am very scared any advice??????tell me what to do please


I've had so many injections now; my last was a week ago. I didn't know I had any side effects; didn't know there were side effects to worry about until an injection last March when the Doctor inquired about how many I've had in the past.

Having been injured in a Pedestrian - Car accident 1.5 years ago I've now had around 16 injections (back, SI, facets, and a number in my hip). I did realize I have become heavier, more tired...hungry. But since last week, all I can think about is food.

Here are my symptoms:

1. Blurred vision
2. Loss of taste (I can taste sweet...but nothing else)
3. Loss of feeling in my pallet and tongue (tip and middle of tongue)
4. Sad; lonely, crying... for no genuine reason
5. Constant hunger
6. Urinating 10-20 times per day (even waking at night...which I NEVER did before).
7. Constant craving of salt
8. Horrible heart burn - like "Call 911"-type heartburn

My tongue is buzzing like it's asleep....not fun.

Does ANYONE know how long these symptoms last? Surely it can't last forever....but is it days? weeks? months?