The breakthrough treatment targeting lower back pain means patients would not have to endure the side-effects of drugs now used to treat the problem, experts said.
And it could help save over 12 billion pounds lost every year to the economy by workers forced to take days off because of crippling pain.
Professor Steven Cohen, who led the research in America, said that just injecting liquid into the epidural space appears to work, adding that most of the relief may not be from the steroid, which everyone worries about.
Many experts warn that steroids are a less-than-ideal treatment as they can raise blood sugar in diabetics, slow wound healing in those who need surgery and accelerate bone disease in older women.
Now, the study in the US has shown the new saline injection into the space around the spinal cord may revolutionise treatment, providing better relief than steroids without the side effects.
The research is published in the journal Anesthesiology.