Exploring the Impact: Steroid Injections for Chronic Pain Management

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What are Steroid Injections?

Steroid injections are a frequent method for alleviating painful inflammation, particularly in the spine and joints. These injections are often indicated for patients with severe osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, they can be an option for individuals experiencing persistent low back or groin pain, which conservative treatments have proven unsuccessful at treating. Two types of steroids may be used in these injections: short-acting soluble steroids, offering quick relief that lasts about a week, and less soluble steroids, providing relief that takes approximately a week to settle in but can last over two months.

What Can They Treat?

Steroid injections can be administered almost anywhere in the body to manage musculoskeletal pain, including joints, muscles, or the spine. They can help manage a wide variety of chronic back conditions such as herniated disks, spinal joint cysts, bone spurs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, and lumbar spondylosis. They also address localized pain in the back or neck. Steroid injections  may also alleviate the symptoms associated with arthritis, gout, bursitis, or tendonitis in various areas. The most common joints treated are the shoulders, elbows, hips, hands, knees, and wrists. However, if a joint is already severely damaged, steroid injections might not be an effective pain management method.

Short Term Impact

Relief from steroid injections can begin anywhere from a few hours to a week after a procedure. If a patient finds the injection to be an effective means of pain management, it can be repeated as needed (without exceeding the recommended dose limit). 

As with any procedure, steroid injections do carry some risks, including bleeding, allergic reaction, or infection. There's also the potential for nerve damage, though this is highly unlikely. Steroids can cause temporary side effects such as mood swings, hot flashes, weight gain, insomnia, and elevated blood sugar in diabetics; however, these should subside within 7 to 10 days. For the first two weeks post-injection, it is highly recommended to avoid overly strenuous activity to prevent tendon injury.

Long Term Impact

Steroids, when used appropriately, have the potential to reduce inflammation and provide effective, long-lasting, though not permanent, pain relief. They may also help to... 

  • Reduce or avoid the use of addictive and potentially dangerous opioid medications  
  • Delay or avoid invasive surgeries  
  • Serve as a diagnostic tool for conditions such as chronic back pain

Despite these benefits, there are some potential drawbacks. For instance, too many steroid injections in the same area can lead to tissue or cartilage damage. Furthermore, osteoporosis is another potential long-term effect of frequent steroid use; however, this can usually be mitigated with regular weight-bearing, resistance training, and calcium supplementation. It remains essential that interested patients consult a qualified provider for personalized advice.

Are Steroids Injections Right for You?

In conclusion, steroid injections can be an integral part of a comprehensive pain management strategy. Here at Ospina Medical, we believe in a personalized approach to treatment, considering each patient's unique health needs and concerns. To explore whether steroid injections might be a suitable option for you, we invite you to book a consultation with Dr. Kohler and begin your journey towards effective pain management!

Written By: Ashley Knebel

Edited By: Camden Rowe

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.