Do injections for back pain only offer temporary relief?

Do injections for back pain only offer temporary relief?

While the use of steroid injections on patients continue to increase, it only offers temporary relief, according to a new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Those with herniated disks or spinal stenosis—two issues that affect the lower back— often complain about constant, throbbing pain.

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland studied a trend where patients were being treated by steroid injections. They looked at random trials with patients injecting steroids versus those with a placebo intervention and discovered there were no long-term benefits to epidural steroid injections.

“These injections may not be as effective as perceived, and decisions should be based on an informed discussion of risks, benefits, and potential options, including surgery, medications and nonpharmacological options like exercise therapy,” said lead researcher Dr. Roger Chou, a professor of medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University.

Instead, they discovered the injections helped with immediate reduction in pain, but only in small doses and not sustained.

There are many options to healing a bad back, including water therapy and exercise, doctors say.

Dr. Richard Egwele, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, believes there are far better ways to relieve the issue long-term than injections.

“Your back is going to feel sore and stiff anytime it cools down,” says Dr. Egwele. “That is often why when you wake up after sleeping, your back hurts the most. I suggest you stretch every morning to loosen up your body and take warm showers when you can.”

He also cautions against quick-fix lower back or spine problems.

“You have to understand that bad back problems didn’t happen overnight and they are not going to go away overnight either,” says Dr. Egwele. “You have to be patient or you will continue to be frustrated by your back issues.”

About 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It’s also the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.

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  1. Shots may be temporary, but they work where other methods don’t. If one is in pain, the thought is for relief that the alternatives like surgery or exercise are not practical or even
    not workable.

    My doctors took me off of Celebrix because of anemia issues. I now take Tylenol which is not
    as effective. My pain doctor has also done Rhizotomies for my lower back pain, and those have not been successful. I am still looking for a cure and surgery is not the answer.

  2. Minnie E Miller August 31, 2015 at 3:40 pm · Reply

    Your article is on point. I have suffered with a Herniated disk–Spinal Stenosis–for more than four years. I received steroid injections , received PT and have ruled out surgery. In three or four months the pain was back. February 2012, I vowed no more. Nevertheless, now I take the dreaded “opiods.” Hope this testimony helps someone. More controlled research needs to be done before condemning those who NEED opiods. BTW, I am in palliative care.

  3. I had 3 injections in 6 months :(. While they did reduce pain, they didn’t eradicate it completely. I recently read a paper published in the AMA that they are going to start recommending no more than 3 in a lifetime dye to complications and injuries.

  4. My husband suffers from severe degenerative disc disease. While I agree that the injections do not eradicate the pain totally, it has decreased my husband’s back pain from an 8 on a scale of 1-10 to a 4 or 5, where it is managable without taking a lot of the dreaded “opiods”. The injections are safer than the opiods……his mind is clearer……he is not as forgetful. The problem is that he has such severe degeneration that he needs the injections in multi levels, which Medicare no longer allows. This means he has to go for more injections, rather than one time for the mulit levels. Where is the sense in this????
    I don’t know where my husband would be without these injections. I just wish our federal government could change places with him for one day. They’d change their policy in a hurry.

  5. I have degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis, and withou the shots the nerve pain is unbearable. I was on gabbapentin, but it made me so tired, very difficult to get started and go to work. After I got the shots I stopped taking it and lost 40 lbs. in a short amount of time. I also can take Tramadol which is a mild pain med., but nothing like the opioids.
    For now the shots really help with the pain, but I can tell my condition is deteriorating due to all the arthritis in my back, and the shots don’t last as long as in the beginning.

    My MD doesn’t want me to have back surgery. Am wondering what my prognosis is. I can’t sleep in a bed, only in a recliner. I have thought about surgery, but he would need to give me a referral. Sometimes it gets really hard to keep going and not just stop everything.

    I had taken the morphine patches for my knee when the HMO made me wait for surgery due to my age. Those worked the best for me. I went about my days fine, worked, And was in good spirits. I think they took them off the market. They were convenient, wear one and replace in three days. No overdose, etc. they get an A in my book! No side effects, either.

    I have had PT when the HMO paid for it, but now it’s difficult to even walk very far, try to get ready in the morning, or even do much around the house. I’d like to see some of the doctors who recommend all this exercise to go do it if they had my stenosis, shown on the MRI. It has taken part of my life away from me.

    Has anyone tried a Carpractor?

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.