Balancing The Benefits and Risks Of Steroid Injections
It may not seem as though winter is over, but Spring is officially here. It has been a long, cold winter season. I know we are all ready for some bright sunshine and yellow daffodils blowing in the breeze.
Spring often spurs us to action… Out with the old, and in with the new. There is something inside us that drives us to try new things every time Spring rolls around.
I am contemplating something new to treat my lower back pain. I have OA and RA in my back. Consequently, I also have degenerative disc disease, and bulging discs. One of those discs decided to rupture last year, and my lower back has been a literal pain since that time.
I have tried stretching exercises, rest, ice, heat, muscle relaxants, and topical pain relievers. Nothing much has helped. I even bought a back brace with lumbar support. The brace helps, but not enough.
I have an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon in two weeks, and I am considering asking for a steroid shot in my lower back. The thought of a day without back pain is alluring.
I know this should be a simple decision, but in reality, it is not. I recently discovered I have osteoporosis. They tested my lower back and my hips, and then prescribed Prolia to help strengthen my bones.
Prolia is a shot given every six months. After a year, the doctor will order another DEXA scan to see if Prolia is helping.
Steroids, while providing blessed relieve from pain, also thin your bones. That is why the doctor restricts the number of times you can have steroid shots.
My primary care physician pointed this out to me when I saw her earlier this week. I need to weigh the benefit against the risk before I make my decision.
I had been leaning toward toughing it out for a few more months, until this morning. My muscle relaxants and pain meds are not getting rid of the lower back pain.
Bending over the sink to brush my teeth aggravates my back. I don’t dare run the vacuum. Riding in the car is like being inside a torture chamber.
I am taking all of this in stride this morning as I sit on my couch sipping my morning coffee. I think my decision has been made for me. It is time to try the steroid shots in my back.
I must admit that I brought this back pain on myself. I was feeling good one day last summer. I knew I was not supposed to lift anything heavier than ten pounds.
I have had that restriction for two years now.
Ignoring what I had been told, I had a "Tawanda" moment. I carried a full bucket of water to my little vegetable garden.
It hurt when I did it, but I thought it would go away. Much to my surprise, the pain did not go away. I ruptured a disc in my lower back, as confirmed by a MRI a few weeks later.
I am sharing this story with you in hope that you will be inspired to take your restrictions seriously. Sometimes we can get away with pushing past our limits, but sometimes we are left with pain that will not let us rest.
I am a rebel by nature, and that disregard for the "status quo" has served me well in many instances. I just need to remember not to push myself past my physical limits. I know we all struggle with this balancing act.
I am not going to dwell on my mistake. It serves no purpose. It is Spring"a time for new beginnings.
Have you found yourself contemplating a change this Spring? Do you have a fear of change? If so, please share your story with our community. You just might help someone else struggling with the same issue.
Vanessa wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).