How Do Steroids Help Treat Back Pain?

Category: Back Pain, Injections | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 17, 2022

Ultrasound Guided Spinal Injections

Spine specialists have a number of tools in their arsenal to help patients overcome problematic back pain, and one avenue that they’ll often pursue for the right patient are steroids. Oral steroids like prednisone can help work to calm inflammation so that other active methods of treatment like physical therapy or strength training can be more easily pursued. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how steroids work to reduce back discomfort, and explain why they might be prescribed for your spine pain.

Steroids For Back Pain

As we mentioned in the introduction, steroids work by attempting to decrease inflammation in the back area that is contributing to discomfort. Inflammation is part of the natural immune response as the body attempts to repair injured tissue, but inflammation can actually slow the healing process or cause more issues if it leads to fluid accumulation or nerve compression.

Steroids help to reduce this inflammatory response by stimulating the production of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a magnificent hormone that aids in a number of bodily processes, but its presence can slow or suppress an immune response. By introducing more cortisol in the body, your immune response and inflammation at an injury site will decrease, helping to calm pain fueled by this inflammation.

A number of different spine issues can be caused, worsened or triggered by inflammation, which is why oral steroids can be effective in treating conditions like:

  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Nerve compression

Oral steroids can be the perfect solution for patients dealing with any of the above conditions who are having a difficult time exercising or performing their physical therapy activities because of pain. Since they are taken by mouth, they aren’t invasive and carry less risk than a corticosteroid injection.

That said, they aren’t a perfect solution either. Not only should they be used in conjunction with other active treatment techniques, they take a longer time to kick in compared to corticosteroids that are delivered directly to the injured site via a guided injection. They may also affect other areas of your body, so it’s important to see how your body responds to the steroid before you take on certain tasks, like work, driving or other physical activities. The effectiveness of oral steroids can also wain over time, so you’ll want to complete your other treatment techniques while the steroids are most effective at calming inflammation.

If you’ve been told that your spinal condition is being caused or worsened by inflammation, consider talking to a spine specialist to see if oral steroids could help with your situation. Dr. Sinicropi would be more than happy to take a closer look at your spine and determine if oral steroids or another treatment path would be right for you.

For more information, give Dr. Sinicropi’s office a call today at (651) 430-3800.

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