Vivian Roshan Dâ??Almeida 1 , Jacob IPE 2 , Nikku Mathew3 , Thomas Devasia 4 , Ashwin Kamath 5 , Raghuveer Adiga 6 , Mrinal Shetty 7 , Latheesh L 8

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Sciatica due to lumbar intervertebral disc herniation is one of the most common causes of radicular pain in an adult working population. This study aims at studying the effectiveness of conservative management of lumbar disc herniation as an alternative to surgical measures. METHODS: A prospective study of 100 patients with lumbar disc herniations who were treated conservatively were followed up at intervals of 1 month, 6 months and 1 year. Patients planned for conservative treatment were treated with pharmacological therapy, rest and physiotherapy. Those planned for epidural steroid injections were administered a single dose of steroid one level higher than the lesion in the epidural space. The collected data was analyzed by Chi square. RESULTS: Our results showed that in both genders, epidural steroid infiltration yielded better results than conservative treatment. Occupation had no discernible effect on the magnitude of disc herniation. People with sedentary lifestyle recovered better with epidural steroid infiltration as compared to the heavy physical labor group. Irrespective of disc bulge, protrusion or extrusion, the epidural steroid injection group showed significant improvement in symptoms as compared to conservative treatment. Smokers tended to show delay in the recovery as compared with the non-smoker group. The amount of disc herniation is not directly proportional to the outcome of treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Epidural steroid infiltration showed significant improvement in symptoms of lumbar intervertebral disc herniation thereby avoiding disc surgery. Conservative management for atleast 4 to 6 weeks can be recommended followed by epidural steroid in those patients without improvement. Cessation of smoking should be an integral part of the treatment.