Steroid injections can reduce lower back pain immediately but they have no long term and sustainable benefits, review suggests
Steroid injections are a common treatment for lower back pain. But a systematic review suggests that steroid injections are not as helpful as they are generally perceived.
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The review was published in Annals of Internal Medicine and it was aimed to determine the benefits and harms of steroids injections.
After extensively reviewing 38 previously published studies, researchers reached the conclusion that Epidural steroid injections have no long term and sustainable benefits on back pain. Patients who used steroids experienced immediate reduction in the pain but the effect was not everlasting. The review also suggested that steroid was proved ineffective for spinal stenosis, a condition that causes pain by putting pressure on spinal canal.
“These injections may not be as effective as perceived,” said lead researcher Dr. Roger Chou from Oregon Science and Health University. “The decisions should be based on an informed discussion of risks, benefits and potential options, including surgery, medications and nonpharmacological options like exercise therapy.”
Immediate relieve from the pain is one of the main reasons why people are using steroid injections.
“One of the reasons that people are advocating for this are doing it is because they see people in horrible pain and are able to see that they do have some relief afterward.” Chou said.
The risk of surgery was never eliminated. Serious harms of steroids were rarely reported but were low in levels whenever observed.
“Patients may have a perception that these injections reduce the need of surgery or result in long-term benefits. It’s important for them to understand that benefits appear to be short-lived and to weigh these short-term benefits against potential complications of the injections such as infection and nerve injury.”Chou said.
“The results appeared to be similar regardless of what type of injection technique was used, what steroid was used, the dose of steroid and other factors.”
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