Steroid Injections: One way to break your cycle of pain
Turó Park’s English-speaking doctors offer better ways to manage your pain.
Any kind of pain, whether from injury, headache or conditions such as arthritis, can interfere with your daily life. When pain treatment is ineffective, people often get sucked down into spiral of decreased functioning, stress, anger, depression and isolation. Pain that lasts for more than a few months is called chronic pain. If you are experiencing chronic pain, it is important that you learn about all of the available treatment options before your pain takes over your life.
Steroid injections and nerve blocks can be extremely helpful in breaking the chronic pain cycle.
- They can temporarily reduce inflammation.
- Depending on how much your pain is improved, the steroid infusion can help ease your pain, improve life quality and help other treatments (such as pain medication or physical therapy) to work better at decreasing your pain.
- Relief from pain can last for up to a year.
Steroid injections involve injecting a mixture of a numbing medication with an anti-inflammatory medication (usually a steroid derived from cortisone), with a needle into painful areas in order to quickly and effectively relieve pain. Initial pain relief comes from the numbing medication which will wear off 1-2 hours after the injection. The steroid should help you to feel less pain starting within 2-7 days of your injection.
Doctors most commonly give steroid injections in:
- The epidural space in the spinal cord where injured nerve roots can cause pain in the back (sciatica), neck, arm or leg. Spinal injections are usually only given in operating rooms to reduce the risk of infection.
- Tendons, the cord of tissue that connects muscles to bone, when they are inflamed (tendonitis).
- Bursa, the water-filled cushions between muscles, tendons and bones which can also become inflamed (bursitis).
- Joints such as the knee or the joints in between the vertebrae of the spine (facet joints) which might have arthritis.
- Sensory nerves can be numbed with local anesthetics injected to treat larger areas of pain caused by more than one tendon or structural injury, called a nerve block. Nerve blocks effectively reduce pain in knee or shoulder joints, especially those with arthritis.
For most conditions, a steroid injection is only a temporary treatment. It will not solve the problem that is causing your pain. To be an informed medical consumer, you should know the limitations and risks of cortisone shots.
- They do not speed healing
- They do not heal injured joints or nerves
- They cannot prevent future problems
- They can cause infection, but very rarely (in fewer than 1 person out of 100 who have a steroid injection)
- When given frequently (more than 3-4 times a year) or repeatedly they can cause damage and thinning of the surrounding tissues (especially of tendons or cartilage) and may become less effective with time.
- Nerve blocks have a lower risk of joint infection after injection and are less likely to harm injured tendons over time because the injection is given in areas with sensory nerves, not into the tendon itself.
We can better treat your chronic pain with a combination of other pain medications with steroid infusions and nerve blocks. This type of treatment plan requires careful medical decision-making, with full evaluation of your other medical conditions and frequent follow-up to make sure you are feeling better.
Turó Park Medical and Dental Center is lucky to have an expert on local steroid and nerve block injections on staff, Dr. Amir M. Safa, MD, MBA, semFyC, FRCGP int.
Our English-speaking medical team can help you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Safa to assess your symptoms and discuss the best treatment options for your pain.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you to begin living your life the way you want to, with less pain.
Author Amy Harris & Article written in collaboration with the Dr. Amir M. Safa