I have had chronic lower back pain for the last seven years that has not seen much relief. I’ve had physical therapy, I've been exercising, and three years ago had what I thought would bring an end to the pain -- steroid shots.
Under twilight sleep, they are done by a doctor to ease inflammation that causes such discomfort. I felt some temporary relief but the pain returned.
Interestingly, I just read a study that has shown these shots may be of no use at all for one spine condition called spinal stenosis. This is a condition where the spinal cord, especially the lower spine, is narrowed and causes pressure on the nerves of the spine.
You can read more about spinal stenosis here.
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle looked into the practice of steroid shots for those with spinal stenosis. They chose a random selection of 400 patients with spinal stenosis and gave them steroid shots in their lower spines.
Some patients received only an anesthetic injection in their lower spines, others received the anesthetic plus the steroid shots. Those with the additional shots felt relief in the weeks following, but the relief didn't last much longer.
One of the researchers was Dr. Janna Friedly, an assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. Friedly said that after six weeks, there was no real difference in pain between either groups.
However, the injection of steroids had two interesting results.
One was that those who got the injections may have benefited from the known side effects of stress relief from steroids, as well as lessening tiredness. These may potentially be the real benefits that patients were feeling.
The other result was less heartening. These steroids can lower bone strength and the efficacy of the immune system.
Another concern that patients should consider is that those who went straight into surgery without the steroids actually fared better than those who tried steroids first.