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Guest Columnist Author: Dr. Josh Wagner, NYC Chiropractor Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Should I Get Cortisone Injections for My Low Back Pain?

By Dr. Josh Wagner, NYC Chiropractor
Nov 30, 2012 - 3:17:59 PM

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( - Cortisone injections, specifically to the spine, have been on a dramatic rise over the past 10 years. Specifically, epidural injections in the lumbar spine (low back) are cortisone injections inserted into a specific location in the spinal canal of the lower back.

A cortisone shot is really just an ultra numbing and anti-inflammatory agent, causing the patient to often be pain free of nerve irritation for anywhere from a week up towards a year when it works best. Universal recommendations are to never receive more than 3 epidural injections within a year, or sometimes ever.  This is unfortunately because after a third injection the patient's spine has progressed to such a bad condition that surgery is inevitable.

Epidural injections allow the patient to use their spine and associated musculature in such a way that actually exacerbates the problem, since nothing is being healed or treated, but rather simply numbed.  When a person feels numb, they move in ways that if they were not numb their body would have produced pain, stopping them from continuing those motions.  But, because those messages are being blocked, the body begins to break down faster. Cortisone injections will often be needed more than once, after the numbing effect naturally fades away.  Though patient beware, soon after the proverbial third injection the nerves may be too damaged from exacerbated use that no other alternative remains except spinal surgery.   If you do your research on spinal surgery, the success rate is far from anything you would want to submit yourself to.

Additionally, Long-term risks of corticosteroid injections can occur even if surgery is not the end result. With higher doses and frequent administration, side effects can include easy bruisingweight gain, elevation of blood pressure, cataract formation, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), and a rare yet serious bone disease of the large joints called avascular necrosis.

Educate yourselves and your loved ones on cortisone injections, and explore all possible alternatives before choosing them as an approach to relief, especially until it's your last option.

There are many conservative approaches to chronic and long term back pain such as chiropractic care, physical therapy, Pilates, and proper education as to daily life style positions and office ergonomics.

Let an epidural injection be your last choice, after all conservative approaches have been exhausted. For more information visit my website,



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