Herniated Discs

Are steroids given for degenerated disc problems?
Steroids applied locally by injection can be very helpful if properly given to selected patients and generally post few dangers. These injections should be given by an experienced pain specialist or radiologist. They may be most effective in the setting of spinal stenosis or nerve root irritation due to disc degeneration. Steroids given orally in the form of pills (such as Prednisone ) may have significant side affects on various organ systems including the bones (osteoporosis, avascular necrosis…) that can exceed the potential medical benefits. One must realize that a mildly bulging, or “dried out” disc is rarely a severe problem. Disc changes are a normal part of aging in the spine. When discs are found to lose water content, it means they are losing some of their ability to act as a shock absorber and the function of properly binding the vertebrae. This can lead to a very subtle instability that may be responsible for pain in some people. If the pain is not severe when a person is in bed or at rest but becomes severe with walking, moving about or prolonged sitting, then there is most likely a mechanical component to the pain. In that case it may be very beneficial to work on stabilizing the spine by developing the muscular supports. Steroid injections may not be the best approach in such cases. Good results can be achieved with a combination of bracing and upper extremity exercises. Locally injected steroids into the facet joints of the spine may offer temporary anti-inflammatory action that can offer some pain relief. However, the primary focus of treatment in most cases is directed towards a guided exercise program.
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