Doctors often prescribe steroid pills to ease the discomfort of sciatica — back and leg pain usually caused by a herniated disk in the lower back. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center in California randomly assigned 269 people with sciatica to take an oral steroid (prednisone) or a placebo (a dummy medication) for 15 days. The study found that after a year, the likelihood of spine surgery was no less for those who took prednisone than for those who took a placebo. Via U.S. News Health. Posted May 19, 2015.