The prevalence of chronic pain is eye-opening, with one in five adults in the United States struggling with the issue at some point in their lives. While women and the elderly tend to suffer more, no one is immune, and solutions can be frustrating.
Here at Vulcan Pain Management, Victor E. Mendoza, MD, and our team of pain management specialists offer patients in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, the tools they need to take back control of their lives. We understand the mental and physical effects that chronic pain can have on your overall well-being, which is why we leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding pain management solutions that work. And in some cases, our first line of defense is steroid injections.
Here’s what you need to know about steroid injections and how they may provide the best option for your chronic pain.
Behind the pain
There are many conditions that can lead to chronic pain, but there are a few that account for the lion’s share of the problem, including:
- Arthritis, namely osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Joint injuries
- Repetitive use problems
- Degenerative disc disease
Chronic pain can strike almost anywhere, but many people grapple with inflammation problems in their joints, as well as back and neck pain. In fact, pain and inflammation typically go hand in hand in all areas, as the inflammation is what irritates or compresses your nerves.
What this means is that the most effective pain management solutions for this type of chronic pain need to address the inflammation, which is where steroids come in.
The reason why we turn to steroid injections as one of our first options is their almost immediate effect on inflammation, bringing you the relief you need. In addition to the anti-inflammatory effect of the steroids, we often use a local anesthetic in the injection to tackle your immediate pain. As the anesthetic wears off, the steroids have gone to work and reduced your inflammation, bringing you longer-term relief.
This quick-and-easy procedure can often buy you enough time to address the source of your chronic pain through other measures, such as physical therapy to strengthen the area. This prevents the chronic pain from making a most unwelcome return down the road. Should this happen, however, we can simply administer another steroid injection.
This treatment protocol is safe enough to use on almost joint in your body, whether it’s a large one like your knee or a small finger.
The back problem
Back pain is not uncommon in the US and is one of the leading drivers of missed work days. If you’re suffering from chronic back or neck pain, we offer epidural steroid injections. With these, we inject the steroid into the epidural space around your spine to tackle the irritated nerve root.
This treatment protocol is more complex than a joint injection, but rest assured, we have extensive experience administering epidural steroid injections, and we use imaging guidance (fluoroscopy) to ensure that we target the right area.
The bottom line
Ultimately, steroid injections work extremely well against chronic pain and are an ideal solution if you want to start out with more conservative measures. The injections typically provide relief for several months, but results can vary wildly among our patients. Some never need another injection while others need regular follow-up treatments.
If you’d like to explore your options in steroid injections further, we invite you to give us a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.