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Steroid Spinal Injections: Study Finds Benefits For Lower Back Pain

Steroid Spinal Injection

Spinal epidural injections of steroids relieve lower back pain due to a ruptured disc, but the relief is temporary, a new study shows.

Researchers say the injections offer no significant relief for pain related to narrowing of the spaces around the spinal cord, reports Reuters.

Earlier studies have reached similar conclusions, but others have shown the benefits of the injections. The use of epidural steroid injections continue to increase, even with contradictory guidelines for physicians.

Dr. Roger Chou from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and his colleagues sorted through 63 published reports on the use of epidural steroid injections for treating low back pain due to spinal narrowing and ruptured discs in an effort to clarify the conflicting information.

The researchers reported the results from the injections were null within three months’ time, reports Fox News. The researchers included studies that involved caudal, interlaminar, and trasforaminal techniques – three ways of administering the steroids – along with various placebos including soft tissue, local anesthetic, and saline.

The long term effects of injecting steroids epidurally were no more effective than a placebo, say the researchers, and do nothing to reduce the need for surgery in patients.

Dr. Chou feels that patients should be making informed decisions and that the injections “are perceived as being more effective than they are.”

I think the important thing is for patients and clinicians to be able to make informed decisions. Epidural corticosteroid injections are perceived as being more effective than they are.

In an unrelated study, researchers discovered that high-frequency spinal cord stimulation was twice as effective in delivering pain relief for patients with chronic back and leg pain as low frequency stimulation.

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