If you are ever going to experience back pain because of a ruptured disk, we advise you not to take steroid injections. They are going to ease the pain, but only for a short period of time. Moreover, these injections do not really offer relief to your back, they are practically a way to postpone the situation. A new study reveals this shocking truth in more details.
While the majority of earlier versions of the study have come to the same conclusion, some have found a number of benefits when it came to steroid injections. But the real issue is that the use of epidural steroid injections has been ever-growing and the guidelines that physicians are following are not of much help either.
To put this question to rest once and for all, Dr. Roger Chou, who works at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and a team of other experts have organized a secondary analysis based on the previously 63 published reports on the same matter. The team reanalyzed the conclusions from the other steroid injection cases for treating low back pain and see what was found.
Dr. Chou specifically said that “epidural corticosteroid injections are perceived as being more effective than they are.” He also emphasizes on the importance of good decisions, which have to be made by both physicians and patients alike.
The final study, which was reported in Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that steroid injections did bring immediate comfort and improvement to patients who had ruptured discs, but those who suffered from spinal narrowing or stenosis were not that lucky. These two last cases were unaffected by the injections. The injections did seem to reduce the immediate need for disc surgery.
The final verdict, however, is that steroid injections have the same effect as a placebo and that the condition remained the same with or without them. The only difference was that patients would feel no pain for a short period of time.
There were no major downsides resulted from the injections, however. Major complications rarely occurred, while minor ones mostly involved nerve root irritation, blood clots and occasional bleeding. Dr. Chou explains that if patients and physicians understood the real value of these injections, they might be able to make better calls regarding when to use it or not.
In the end, doctors are not going to dismiss these injections, but a better information campaign could help doctors and patients understand the value of steroid injections and when to apply them or not. It is suffice to say they are situational, just like any medicine, but the situations need to be explained a lot clearer.
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