Spinal injections for lower back pain and sciatica; are there better options?

Spinal injections for lower back pain and sciatica; are there better options?

Back pain is an epidemic problem and it seems that many health professionals who wear white coats have an answer for what makes your back hurt. The truth is that few health professionals understand why you hurt, and more aggressive approaches to care may potentially do more to harm you than help you.

Pain management specialists have been selling the idea that spinal injections can be helpful.  Injections are often recommended when a person has radicular pain down the arm or leg or if they have a compressed nerve.

Over 9 million of these procedures are done yearly, or approximately 24,000 per day. The evidence level for using spinal epidural injection is only fair according to a 2012 study in the Journal Pain Physician. 

The procedure can be risky as we found out a few years ago when a number of cases developed meningitis from the procedure itself. There are methods to back pain relief that can be potentially more effective and less expensive if you do your research first.  Who you see for a back problem will determine what it costs and what your experience will ultimately be while you make your way through the healthcare system.

Epidural injections of an anesthetic into the spinal canal offer usually only short term relief of the condition, yet the mechanism behind why the pain developed and why the damage to the structures occurred is rarely ever evaluated.

There is growing evidence that back pain, sciatic pain, and many disc problems are the result of improper movement patterns that have developed over many years, with the back, or the disc or the sciatic radiation being a functional manifestation of how we move, walk and function.  Perhaps this is why so many people fail to achieve long term relief with this procedure; it is treating a finding on an MRI or an exam to the lower back while ignoring the person, their body mechanics, and the mechanism of injury.

Statistically, at least 30% of those suffering from back and leg pain see their primary doctors first, who usually send them to physical therapy, and then to pain management who then sends them to surgery if they do not improve.

Many of these people will have epidural injections recommended to them in pain management during their tour of the medical system.

Some of these people will decide on their own after the injection to see a chiropractor.   Chiropractic management of conditions like these has a great reputation courtesy of Consumer Reports and Bottom Line Personal and the many studies that have evaluated the satisfaction people have with their chiropractic care.

Chiropractic care is a low risk, high reward approach to back pain, and sciatic pain that offers relief, even for those who had an epidural injection already as discussed in this study.   Perhaps, chiropractors get the results they do because of their holistic approach to the patient, rather than the piecemeal approach of treating the part or the symptom.  Have you ever seen a lower back walking in the park or have you seen people walking in the park who happen to have a lower back?

What should you do?  The answer is obvious; see a chiropractor first.