Pros and Cons of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Epidural or Steroid injections are a standard treatment option for back pain. They can be injected into the space around the spinal cord or as a nerve root block injected into the area around the affected nerve. Epidural steroid injections usually provide relief for several weeks to months. Nerve root blocks may provide longer-term relief. It may take weeks or months for it to subside and for you to resume your routine. If you opt for it, consider the pros and cons of steroid injections for back pain management first.

What are the Pros of Steroid Injections for Pain management?

Due to their scientific benefits, epidural injections have been included in several therapies. If used appropriately, cortisone shots can relieve inflamed joints and tissues but don't speed up the healing process or prevent future problems. Here are some of the most common pros of steroid injection for back pain.

1. Relief from pain

Steroid injections can relieve the pain caused by inflammation or compression of the spinal nerves. The steroids help reduce swelling and inflammation, which reduces the pressure on the nerves. This can provide significant relief from pain, allowing you to resume your normal activities.

2. Long-term relief is one of the pros of steroid injections for back pain

For some people, cortisone injections can provide long-term relief from back pain. In some cases, the effects of the injection can last for several months. This is especially beneficial if your back pain is severe and chronic.

3. Safe and effective

Steroid injections are a safe and effective treatment option for many people with back pain. They have been used for decades and have a proven track record. Side effects are rare and usually mild.

4. Minimally invasive

If an experienced professional injects, steroid injections are a minimally invasive treatment option. They are injected into the affected area, typically the space around the spinal cord or the area around the affected nerve. The procedure is quick and easy, and you can usually go home the same day.

5. Affordable

If you have felt severe painful moments, you can easily understand the significance of cortisone injections. Epidural injections are an affordable treatment option for back pain. An average injection costs around $600. Insurance typically covers the cost, which is among the financial pros of steroid injections for back pain management.

What are the Cons of Steroid Injections for Pain management?

The cons of steroid injections for back pain are many, and most are minor. However, there is always the potential for serious side effects, including:

1. Risk of side effects

While steroid injections are generally safe, there is a risk of side effects. The most common side effect is temporary soreness at the injection site. Other potential side effects include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Skin thinning
  • Weakening of bones
  • Facial flushing
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Increased appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Addiction
  • Death

2. May not be effective

Steroid injections may not be effective for everyone. Some people may not experience any relief from their back pain after the injection. If the injections are not effective, you may need to explore other treatment options.

3. Requires Experienced Doctors

According to FDA documents, 2,442 serious issues, including 154 deaths, were reported from Depo-Medrol injections administered from 2004 through March 2018. The most common injuries occurred when the needle missed the epidural space, struck the nerves, or prevented blood flow to the spinal cord when put into the spinal fluid or arteries. Even though the procedure is minimally invasive, an incorrectly injected needle can turn into a nightmare for patients.

4. Temporary relief is also among many cons of steroid injections for back pain

Epidural injections provide temporary relief from back pain. The beneficial results of the injection typically last for several weeks to months. Once the effects wear off, the pain will return. If you receive multiple injections, you may eventually need to explore other treatment options.

5. Can become addictive

Epidural injections can become addictive if they are used too frequently. This is because the body can develop a tolerance to steroids. If you receive too many steroid injections, you may eventually need to take more potent steroid doses, leading to addiction.

Types of Corticosteroids for Back Pain Injections

Different types of corticosteroids can be injected for back pain. The type of corticosteroid used will depend on the severity of your pain and the cause of your pain. The most common types of corticosteroid injections include:

  • Triamcinolone Acetonide
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Betamethasone
  • Kenalog

Conclusion on the Pros and Cons of Steroid Injections for Pain

When deciding if this treatment is proper for you, there are pros and cons of steroid injections for back pain management. These can offer relief from pain and inflammation in the short term, but they also come with some risks. If you're considering this treatment option, carefully weigh all of the pros and cons before deciding. And always talk to your doctor about any treatments you're thinking of trying. Managing back pain doesn't have to be difficult, but it does require patience and diligence. With the right approach, you can find relief and get on with your life.

Pros and Cons of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Frequently Asked Questions

Are steroid injections worth it?

Steroid injections are frequently advised for people with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. They may also be beneficial for those who have osteoarthritis and need more pain medication for a period. The injection can decrease inflammation, which should help to alleviate discomfort.

What are the long term effects of steroid injections?

The more injections are given to one area, the weaker that region will become. Cortisone shots can sometimes weaken the intestine's capacity to absorb calcium, breaking the bones. In severe instances, blood flow is cut off, causing excruciating pain.

How long should you rest after a steroid injection?

It helps heal the joint and reduces or eliminates heavy exercise for 24 hours after the injection.

How quickly do steroid injections work?

A corticosteroid injection can take up to two weeks to relieve pain and inflammation. The inflammation may take up to two weeks to improve after the medicine reduces it. It is possible that the full benefit of the corticosteroid isn't felt until 6 weeks after the shot.

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