Each year, an estimated 5 million to 9 million people receive epidural steroid injections for back pain.
During this procedure, a mixture of steroid and numbing medications are injected into your lower back. Generally, fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance is used to help confirm that the needle is placed in the correct spot before the medication is injected, as when you’re dealing with a vulnerable area like the spinal cord, medication injected into the wrong spot — such as into the spinal fluid — can be disastrous.
If performed correctly, the powerful medication is then injected into the space outside of the sac of fluid around your spinal cord (known as the epidural space).
Even under the best circumstances, epidural steroid injections provide only short-term relief, which generally wears off in six to eight weeks, and is estimated to be effective in only 50% of patients. This may be why, despite a documented 629 percent increase in Medicare expenditures for epidural steroid injections, no correlating improvement in patient outcomes or disability rates have been found[i] …
The injections have long been a source of controversy in the medical community, pitting pain clinics that administer a large number of the pricey procedures — and insist they are safe and effective — against a growing number of patients and physicians who have seen them do great harm.
The recent meningitis outbreak, which has killed 28 people and sickened hundreds of others so far, linked to contaminated steroid injections has fueled the debate over the safety even more … but the truth is, epidural steroid injections have a long history of very serious dangers.
The 11 Top Dangers You Must be Aware Of …
11. Bone Fractures
Each time you get a steroid injection for back pain, your risk of bone fractures in the spine increase by 29 percent, according to new research.[ii] The finding is especially concerning since the injections are often used to treat back pain in people with osteoporosis, who are already at increased bone fracture risk. For these people, the epidural steroid injections pose a “hazard to the bone,” the researchers said.
10. Adrenal Insufficiency
Epidural steroid injections contain corticosteroids, medications that mimic the effects of hormones like cortisone in your body, often at levels that exceed levels of those naturally found in your body. This suppresses your natural hormone balance, which can lead to adrenal insufficiency, a condition in which your adrenal glands can no longer produce adequate amounts of steroid hormones. This can lead to muscle weakness, kidney failure, low blood pressure, mood changes and other serious effects if left untreated.
Arachnoiditis is an inflammation of the membrane surrounding your spinal cord, nerves and brain, which is associated with epidural steroid injections, particularly when the medication is accidentally injected into the spinal fluid (there is some evidence that preservatives in the injections may be part of the link).
Although rare, the condition is incurable and incredibly painful, with patients describing sensations of electric shocks, muscle cramps, bugs crawling on their skin and constant, stabbing pain so severe many consider suicide. As the condition progresses, patients may lose bowel and bladder function and be confined to a wheelchair or bedridden.
Other Complications Linked to Epidural Steroid Injections Include …
8. Side effects from the steroid medication itself, which includes a decrease in immunity, high blood sugar, stomach ulcers, arthritis of the hips, cataracts and increased appetite
7. Infection, which can range from minor to severe
6. Spinal Headache, caused by a dural puncture (a puncture to the sleeve-like covering of your spinal cord), which can last for days and sometimes requires a blood patch to resolve
5. Bowel and bladder dysfunction
2. Sensory disturbances and nerve damage
The Safer Option for Long-Term Back Pain Relief?
After 7 years of development, $2 million invested in its production and a scientific study proving just how effective it is for relieving back pain in the short and long-term … the Back Ease is quickly becoming the fastest, easiest and most affordable way to quickly relieve (sometimes instantly eliminate) back pain ... without any of the risks posed by epidural steroid injections.
Using the power of inversion therapy, your back gets instant relief as gravity gently decompresses your spine.
And by turning old-fashioned inversion tables into a comfortable padded seat, getting started with inversion therapy has never been easier.
Imagine just minutes from now as YOUR back pain, stiffness and physical function improves by 100%, allowing you to finally get back to the things you LOVE to do, but have too much pain to do now. Please, before you resort to epidural steroid injections or even surgery that could leave you permanently disabled and in worse pain than when you started, give the Back Ease a try.
Written By: Updated: October 31,2012
4 thoughts on “Epidural Steroid Injections: 11 Biggest Dangers to Beware Of”
Steroids are used for many treatments. The fact is that epidural steroid injections give only short term relief. All points you described here are very relevant
Uh, yeah, short term relief was mentioned in the article.
My father is dying of pain after and epidural injectiom , we don’t what to do nobody is helping us
Sometimes the nerve pain is so unbearable that short term relief is enough to get the pain under control.