Steroid Injections Not So Effective for Back Pain

One of the more common treatments for low back pain--corticosteroid injections--may not be all the effective over time, concludes new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Steroid injections work by reducing inflammation to relieve pain and it’s a treatment that's increasingly being used for back pain. But researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland reviewed 30 trials testing the short and long term effects of epidural corticosteroid injections for people with radiculopathy (inflammation of a spinal nerve) or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) – two conditions that cause radiating lower back pain. They then compared that with people who had been treated with a placebo.

The scientists looked at three factors: how the injections affected pain, function, and risk for surgery. And they found while the injections provided significant immediate pain relief compared to the placebo, the overall effect was small and short term for radiculopathy. For spinal stenosis, researchers found the injections offered no concrete pain relief compared with a placebo.

The treatment also did not prevent the need for surgery in the long term. The researchers noted that the steroid treatments may be ineffective due to the fact that inflammation may not be a factor in most patients, or that patients improve over time with or without treatment.

The scientists suggested that people with low back pain consider alternative treatments, such as massage or acupuncture.

_This Week's Slice of History: _Taking on DDT: Aug. 29, 1962

Sourced from: Medical News Today, Corticosteroid injections may be ineffective for low back pain