Back pain and steriod injection relief; an expensive way to get a placebo effect with an ineffective solution.

Back pain and steriod injection relief; an expensive way to get a placebo effect with an ineffective solution.

For years, lower back pain sufferers who visited neurosurgeons and orthopedics have been offered steroid injections for pain relief, often while ignoring proven and effective solutions such as better management of the problem which the book Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain describes as a gait issue, with the lower back being the symptom rather than the problem. Proven therapies such as manipulation and fascial release can have a terrific effect combined with exercises to resolve a lower back and leg pain problem. All too often, these solutions are not either offered or are pushed aside for more agressive solutions such as the steriod injection. New evidence is now showing these injections which have been made hugely expensive, offer little or no upside benefit, yet, many surgical specialists religiously recommend them as a conservative course of care that should be considered.

Making a strong recommendation against the use of these methods is not politically correct and may offend or harm those who are selling these medical procedures, however the reality is they do not work. Should insurers be paying for something that does not work even though they are given the hard sell as if they are necessary and do work? Since back pain has to do with the way someone walks and they way they are built as per Cheating Mother Nature, shouldn’t we be smarter about what we are treating and treat the problem, not the symptom. Perhaps insurers must follow the lead of this Pittsburgh Pa. insurer (see article) and require manipulation, fascial release and active care prior to surgery or any invasive procedure is even considered. This would put a huge dent in health care costs.

Read the NY Times article here

For Back Pain, Steroid Shots No More Effective Than Placebo

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
A randomized trial of steroid injections for back pain has shown that they are no more effective than a placebo.Because the long-term benefits of surgery remain unproven and pain medicines often have serious side effects, doctors have increasingly turned to steroid injections to treat lumbosacral radiculopathy, a common cause of back pain. The condition stems from damage to the discs between the vertebrae that often leads to sciatica, numbness or pain in the legs.

Researchers tested 84 adults with back pain of less than six months’ duration, dividing them into three groups. They received either steroids, etanercept (an arthritis medicine) or an inactive saline solution in two injections given two weeks apart.

At the end of one month, they were assessed for pain. Continue reading here