Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Steroid for Back Pain?

Thursday, 30 December 2010 11:06 AM

Question: I have a painful bulging disc in my back. Will a steroid injection help me?
Dr. Hibberd’s Answer:
Localized shots of cortisone preparations, very potent agents for pain management, are often used for painful disc conditions. However, they cannot be frequently used because they are steroids, which weaken supportive tissue.
Often, these injections decrease inflammation, allowing the extruded disc material to be re-absorbed and relieving pain. This may help you delay and possibly avoid surgery.
These injections do not delay or hasten the disc disease healing process, but are part of a pain management strategy used to conservatively treat symptomatic disc disease that is believed to be stable enough for such management. Too many cortisone shots will have increased risks both on a local and hormonal level, so ask your surgeon about your individual needs.
The safe number of injections varies depending on location, dose, and cortisone preparation used by your surgeon or pain management specialist. That number also is affected by any co-existing medical conditions you may have where cortisone use could result in increased risks. For example, some diabetics may see their blood-glucose levels rise sharply with cortisone use.

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