Low back pain and sciatica have been treated with peridural local anesthetics for over 80 years and with epidural and subarachnoid steroid injections for a quarter of a century. This review surveyed the literature concerning the evolution, pathophysiology, complications and results of this type of therapy. The volume injected and the method used vary with different physicians and no standard has been established. Good results from this treatment which vary from 20 to 95% decrease on long-term follow up. Statistical significance is absent if compared with other forms of therapy. It is the authors' opinion that the rationale for the use of spinal local analgesics or steroids or intramuscular steroids has not been scientifically proven. Complications with the use of subarachnoid steroids are sufficiently serious that this form of therapy should be condemned. In this age of accountability it is imperative that therapies with questionable benefits should be critically evaluated.