Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Oral steroids can be a very effective treatment option for patients suffering from certain types of spinal issues, but like any pill, they aren’t designed to be a long-term, stand-alone option for your back pain. So how can the benefits of oral steroids be maximized, and what conditions can they help treat? We take a closer look at how oral steroids can help treat spine pain in today’s blog.
How Oral Steroids Can Help Treat Spine Pain
Oral steroids, also known as corticosteroids that are taken by mouth as opposed to an injection, are prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications that can help treat a number of different problems in your spine. Many spine conditions are directly caused or worsened by chronic or severe inflammation, so oral steroids can help to calm this inflammation and allow healing to run its course.
Oral steroids work by raising your body’s natural adrenal hormones above normal levels. When you have low or weakened adrenal hormones, your body will become increasingly sensitive to an inflammatory response. These oral steroids help to increase adrenal hormones to help stave off an inflammatory response by your body. Additionally, corticosteroids work to suppress your immune system, which can help to treat issues caused by autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, but this can obviously create some additional issues.
As we mentioned in the introduction, oral steroids are not designed to be a long-term solution to your spinal discomfort. Oftentimes they are given for a week or two at a time, and you slowly wean off of them over the course of your prescription length. You may take more when inflammation is at its worst and then decrease your dosage as inflammation subsides and you start feeling better.
What Back Conditions Can Be Treated With Oral Steroids?
Oral steroids can prove useful in treating problems that are caused by or worsened as a result of spinal inflammation, which includes:
- Bulging discs
- Herniated discs
- Nerve impingement
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal stenosis
- Chronic back pain
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Oral Steroids
Oral steroids can be extremely beneficial at helping to balance out a hormonal issue that is contributing to hypersensitivity and chronic inflammation. Moreover, oral steroids can help to calm inflammation so that other active treatment methods can specifically target the area. These oral steroids may make it easier to complete an exercise or physical therapy routine that can really drive home long-term recovery. Corticosteroids can be a perfect compliment to other active treatments for spine pain, and they are less risky than surgery.
That said, oral steroids are far from a perfect solution. As we noted above, they are not designed to be a long-term solution because they don’t treat the underlying issue on a large scale. Additionally, prescription-strength medications also carry the possibility of dependence, abuse and overdose if not taken correctly. Make sure you and your doctor are on the same page when it comes to how to take your medication and what you should do if you run into problems at any stage of treatment. Oral steroids can also lead to some unintended side effects, like weight gain, increased blood pressure, mood swings and problems falling asleep or staying asleep.
So while they aren’t a perfect solution on their own, oral steroids can absolutely be a productive aspect of a comprehensive treatment plan. For more information about oral steroids, or to see if they may be right for your back issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today at (651) 430-3800.