Are Steroid Injections Really Effective in Treatment of Back and Leg Pain?
One of the most common treatments for back and leg pain – medically referred to as spinal stenosis – is steroid spinal injections. However, a recent study has concluded that this form of treatment may actually have little benefit to those patients receiving the medication. Millions of dollars are spent every year on the hundreds of thousands of patients who are treated with steroids. The cost of an injection can be anywhere from $500 to $2,000 apiece. The study, which was done by researchers from the University of Washington, was the biggest randomized research on steroid injections that have been done to date. Researchers examined the 400 patients from 16 different medical facilities. The steroid used in the study was glucocorticoid, one of the most common medications used in this type of treatment. Some of the patients were given injections of the glucocorticoid and lidocaine, which is a local anesthetic. Other patients were given injections of just the lidocaine. The patients were evaluated three weeks after the injections, and then again at six weeks. Within three weeks of the injection, the group of patients that has received the steroid with the anesthetic reported better results than the anesthetic-only group. However, six weeks later, that result had changed. Researchers concluded, “In the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis, epidural injection of glucocorticoids plus lidocaine offered minimal or no short-term benefit as compared with epidural injection of lidocaine alone.” There is concern about the use of steroid injections that may not offer significant relief for patients, but may be exposing those patients to serious side-effects. The most common side-effects associated with their use are headaches, sleeplessness and increase risk of infection. However, earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that steroids may also cause strokes, paralysis, blindness or even death. The FDA has never approved steroid injections for treatment of back pain and reminded patients of that in their warning, stating, “. . .however, the effectiveness and safety of the drugs for this use have not been established, and FDA has not approved corticosteroids for such use.” If you have suffered illness or injury from medical treatment, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what legal compensation you may be entitled to.
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