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Can a Steroid Injection Really Help You With Pain?

Category: Chiropractic Education

Dr. Mario Tolj

Hey guys! It’s Dr. Tolj here to talk about something that’s been on many of my patients’ minds lately: steroid injections. As a healthcare professional people ask me all the time if I should get an injection. Quite honestly people either love them or hate them with no in-between. It just depends on the individual’s own philosophy with regard to taking one. Our objective is not to “talk smack” about injections but rather just to inform and have the reader critically think about their own situation.

Key Takeaways

  • Steroid injections are a treatment option for managing pain and inflammation in various musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Different types of steroid injections, such as epidural, joint, and soft tissue injections, target specific areas of the body for potential relief.
  • While generally safe and effective, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks and side effects associated with steroid injections before undergoing treatment.

Table of Contents

What Is a Steroid Injection?

According to WebMD, Steroid injections, also known as cortisone shots or corticosteroid injections, are synthetic medications that closely resemble cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands in the human body. It’s important to note that these corticosteroids differ from the anabolic steroids sometimes misused by athletes to enhance performance.

The primary function of steroid injections is to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system’s response. This makes them a potential treatment option for a wide range of inflammatory conditions. By addressing the inflammation, steroid injections can potentially provide relief from symptoms associated with various medical issues. Two questions should come to your mind when thinking about injections. Is inflammation technically bad? Will this injection fix my underlying diagnosis? But lets take a look at the variety of options first.

How Many Different Types Are There?

Types of Steroid Injections

Now, let’s talk about the different types of steroid injections available. Here are the main categories:

  • Epidural Steroid Injections (ESIs): These injections target the space around your spinal cord, known as the epidural space. They can be further divided into lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) ESIs.
  • Joint Injections: As the name suggests, these injections are administered directly into a painful joint, such as your knee, hip, or shoulder.
  • Soft Tissue Injections: These injections target the soft tissues surrounding your joints, like tendons and bursae. They can help with conditions like tendinitis and bursitis.

The Cleveland Clinic explains that a lumbar epidural steroid injection1 (lumbar ESI) involves injecting an anti-inflammatory medication, like a steroid or corticosteroid, into the epidural space around the spinal nerves in your lower back.

The primary goal of lumbar ESIs is to manage chronic pain2 caused by irritation and inflammation of the spinal nerve roots in your lumbar spine. This type of pain is known as lumbar radiculopathy (radicular pain) and can radiate from your lower back to your hips, legs, and feet.

Do They Work?

It’s essential to understand exactly what steroid injections do and how they work in the body. While steroid injections can be effective and fast-acting, it’s crucial to recognize that they are not always the best solution for addressing the root cause of the problem. In our opinion, these compounds primarily focus on masking the symptoms rather than fixing the underlying issue.

In my experience, relying solely on steroid injections may provide temporary relief, but it doesn’t promote long-term healing. It’s like putting a bandage on a wound without cleaning it first – the wound might feel better for a while, but it won’t heal properly.

Moreover, steroid injections can come with potential side effects3, which is why I always encourage my patients to explore alternative options that focus on addressing the root cause of their pain or inflammation.

In my practice, I prefer to use natural, non-invasive techniques that work with the body’s innate healing abilities. By identifying and treating the underlying problem, we can achieve lasting relief without the need for synthetic drugs or their associated risks.

It’s important to remember that while steroid injections may have their place in certain situations, they should not be considered the go-to solution for every case.

Should I Get A Steroid Injection?

Steroid Injection of Spine

It’s up to you on what makes sense. Many patients ask me about steroid injections, and while they can provide temporary relief, I want to shed some light on why they might not be the best long-term solution.

Now, don’t get me wrong – steroid injections have their place in pain management especially if the pain is absolutely unbearable. They can be quick acting at reducing inflammation and providing quick relief. However, we believe in addressing the root cause of the problem and I can’t help but feel like they’re a bit like putting a Band-Aid on a broken bone.

You see, steroid injections don’t actually fix the underlying issue causing your pain. They just mask the symptoms for a while. It’s like taking a painkiller when you have a cavity – sure, it might make you feel better for a bit, but that tooth is still going to keep decaying until you get it properly treated.

That’s where our cutting-edge treatments like the Summus Class IV Laser and Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression come in. These innovative therapies work in conjunction to address the root cause of your pain, promoting healing from within and providing lasting relief.

The Summus Class IV Laser, for example, seeks out inflammation and modulates it faster than any steroid injection or anti-inflammatory medication could. It’s like sending a team of tiny, targeted warriors into your body to fight the battle against pain and inflammation at the cellular level.

And the best part? No needles, no drugs, and minimal side effects. And why are we trying to be anti-inflammation anyways? Inflammation is our body’s natural way of healing so why would we hinder that or stop it? We should accentuate its effectiveness but not let the inflammation get out of hand and become chronic. Just to be clear steroid injections or Laser Therapy can NOT get to the root cause of a disc herniation diagnosis. But that’s where our decompression saves the day.

When it comes to issues like herniated discs in the lower back, our Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression treatment is a game-changer. While steroid injections and traditional chiropractic adjustments can provide temporary relief, they don’t actually work on the disc itself to reduce herniation.

Yes, I said chiropractic adjustments don’t help decompress a disc bulge! They are great with providing a range of motion to the facet joints which are the back side of the vertebra but how can a pop or crack solve a disc bulge? It’s common sense if you truly think about it.

Spinal decompression, on the other hand, gently stretches the spine and creates negative pressure within the discs, allowing them to retract and take pressure off the nerves. It’s like giving your discs a much-needed vacation from the daily grind of gravity and compression. But be careful about what decompression table you use because a lot of people have traction tables rather than true decompression. There is a big difference but that’s for a different blog

At the end of the day, it’s about finding the right solution for your unique situation.

As a chiropractor, my goal is to help you achieve optimal health and wellness by treating the underlying cause of your pain, not just masking the symptoms. This usually requires a variety of services in combination rather than just picking one and doing it over and over again.

While drug companies and traditional medical practices might push steroid injections as a quick fix, I believe in empowering my patients with natural, non-invasive alternatives that promote true healing. Again, I’m not hating on medical practices I’m just trying to get you to think about your condition and think there is a time and place for every medical approach even when it comes to chiropractic care.

Remember, you don’t have to settle for temporary relief – with the right approach, lasting healing is within reach.

Alternatives to Steroid Injections

If steroid injections aren’t your cup of tea, or if you’re not a candidate for them, don’t worry! There are other options available:

  • Summus Class IV Laser: One of the most promising options we offer at our practice is Summus Class IV Laser therapy. This cutting-edge treatment harnesses the power of light energy to promote healing at the cellular level. By targeting the affected area with precise laser wavelengths, we can stimulate the body’s natural healing processes, modulate inflammation, and alleviate pain. The best part? It’s entirely non-invasive, with minimal side effects, and can be used more frequently than steroid injections for consistent therapeutic results.
  • Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression: Another powerful alternative is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression. This innovative treatment is particularly effective for individuals suffering from herniated or bulging discs, spinal stenosis, and other conditions that cause compression of the spinal nerves. Our Spine-Med gently stretches the spine and creates negative pressure within the discs, we can help herniated or bulging discs retract, taking pressure off the nerves and providing lasting relief. It’s a safe, effective, and non-invasive alternative to steroid injections and surgery.

Steroid Injections vs. Summus Class IV Laser and Spinal Decompression

It’s important to note that while steroid injections can provide quick pain relief, they are ultimately a temporary solution. They don’t address the root cause of the problem, which is where our cutting-edge treatments like the Summus Class IV Laser and Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression work together to reduce inflammation and decompress the disc in question.

A laser will seek out inflammation and neutralize it quicker4 than a cortisone shot or anti-inflammatory medication. This means faster, more targeted relief without the potential side effects of steroid injections.

When it comes to herniated discs in the lower back, steroid injections can provide temporary symptomatic relief. However, unlike non-surgical spinal decompression, which actually works on the disc to reduce the herniation in most cases5, these treatments don’t address the underlying issue. Think about it. If a boulder fell on top of you and you were stuck under it with so much pain, what are you going to say? Give me some pills or a shot for this pain or will you say get this compressing thing off of me!

FAQs

How long does pain relief from steroid injections typically last? 

Pain relief from steroid injections can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the individual and the condition being treated. Or sometimes they don’t work at all. It’s very subjective and it depends on the extent of your diagnosis and the severity of it.

Can I receive steroid injections if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding? 

Steroid injections are generally not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, as the medication can pass through the placenta or into breast milk. Always discuss your unique situation with your healthcare provider.

Will I need to take time off work after receiving a steroid injection? 

Most people try to return to work the day after their injection, but it’s essential to avoid strenuous activities for the first 24-48 hours. Your provider will give you specific instructions based on your individual case.

Can steroid injections cure my underlying condition? 

While steroid injections can provide pain relief and reduce inflammation, they are not a cure for the underlying condition in our opinion.

How often can I receive steroid injections? 

In general, healthcare providers recommend limiting steroid injections to no more than 3-4 times per year in the same area to minimize potential side effects and complications. However, the exact frequency will depend on your specific condition and response to treatment.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it: the complete guide to steroid injections and how they compare to our innovative treatments like the Summus Class 4 Laser and Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression!

Remember, while steroid injections can be a powerful tool in managing pain and inflammation, they’re not always the best long-term solution. By addressing the root cause of your condition through targeted, non-invasive treatments, we can help you achieve lasting relief and get you back to living your best life.

If you’re in the Mount Pleasant area and you’re ready to take control of your pain, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. Mario Tolj. Together, we’ll create a personalized treatment plan that works for you, using the latest in chiropractic/medical technology and techniques.

Don’t let pain hold you back any longer – let’s work together to get you feeling your best!

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22301-epidural-steroid-injection-esi ↩︎
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470189/ ↩︎
  3. https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/steroid-injections ↩︎
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4881709/ ↩︎
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9553669/ ↩︎
Dr. Mario Tolj

Dr. Mario Tolj, the founder and lead chiropractor at The BodyFix, is a passionate and dedicated healthcare professional. With extensive experience and advanced training in chiropractic care, he is committed to delivering personalized, comprehensive treatments that address the root cause of his patients' concerns. Dr. Tolj's patient-centric approach, combined with his expertise in cutting-edge techniques and whole-body wellness, has helped countless individuals achieve lasting relief and improved quality of life.