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Steroid Shots Do Little to Improve Sciatica

A recent Australian medical study found that spinal injections of corticosteroids had no measurable effect on sciatica pain. Sciatica is a common symptom that consists of leg pain caused by nerve irritation or impingement of the spinal nerve roots of the lower back and/or the sciatic nerve itself. In randomized controlled trials, researchers found little difference in the relief offered by the injections and a placebo. After analyzing results from nearly two dozen clinical trials involving thousands of sciatica patients, they concluded that the shots did little to help. Despite this, in recent years the use of epidural steroid injections to treat back pain has soared from 741,000 in 2000 to approximately 1,438,000 in 2004. In the U.S., corticosteroid shots are expensive, often costing hundreds of dollars per shot. Recently, a tainted supply of a steroid included in the trials was tied to a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis that infected 400 people and led to 31 deaths. The researchers concluded that sciatica patients should consult with their physician and consider alternate forms of treatment, including chiropractic care and only in extreme cases, surgery.



Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, online November 13, 2012.