Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Lower Spine News

Steroid or Saline Injections: Sometimes, It's a Wash

Do steroid injections work for low back pain (LBP) from a disc problem? Probably not, report these doctors. They came to this conclusion after a year-long study of 120 patients. Two groups of 60 patients each were included in this study. All patients had signs and symptoms of discogenic LBP with positive MRI findings.

Each patient had a discography. This is a special test to show if pain occurs when the disc is pressurized. If the test was positive the patient either got a steroid injection or a saline (placebo) injection. The two groups were compared at the end of one year. Results were measured by change in disability and change in pain levels.

The authors report no difference between the two groups at the end of one year. Thus, they can't recommend the use of steroid injections in patients with discogenic LBP.

Abhay Khot, MS(Orth), DNB(Orth), FRCS(Orth), et al. The Use of Intradiscal Steroid Therapy for Lumbar Spinal Discogenic Pain. In Spine. April 15, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 8. Pp. 833-837.

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