When researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital examined the medical effects of a standard treatment for back pain, they were shocked at what they found. The commonly given injections drastically drain bone strength.
The scientists discovered that when doctors give epidural steroid injections to postmenopausal women for back pain, the women lose their bone density six times faster.
“The findings of our study suggest that epidural steroid injections for back pain relief should be approached cautiously in patients at risk for bone fragility,” says researcher Shlomo Mandel. “Physicians who do prescribe them should consider measures that optimize bone health such as calcium and vitamin D supplements and exercise as part of their patient’s treatment plan.”
Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States. It afflicts eight of 10 people at some point during their lives. Doctors frequently offer anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy for back problems. In addition, an epidural steroid is often prescribed to relieve pain.
“Patients receiving multiple steroid injections with a history of steroid exposure may be especially susceptible to compromised bone strength,” Mandel warns.