Ethics in Medicine

Another Article on Steroid Injection Risk

Kristen Sparrow • November 19, 2012


For Back Pain: Relax! Or try acupuncture!

We’ve covered the hazards of epidural steroid injections here.  But this article is a good summary of the questionable efficacy, the skyrocketing usage, and the horrors of the fungal meningitis cases.

How Back Pain Turned Deadly
..There are the doctors who overprescribe an invasive back-pain therapy that, in studies, has not proved useful for many of the patients who get it. ..
The use of steroid injections to treat back pain has skyrocketed in the past 15 years — out of proportion to growth in the number of patients with back pain, or the aging of the population…
The shots — which may include a steroid and an anesthetic — are often dispensed at for-profit pain clinics owned by the physicians holding the needle. “There’s a lot of concern about perverse financial incentive,” Dr. Friedly added…
But, says Dr. Forseen: “You have to use injections selectively, and selectivity has gone way down. In some places, people get injections because they’ve walked in the door.”..
Back pain is, of course, a debilitating condition. And modern medicine has produced some miraculous cures. But from now on when doctors and patients are tempted to say “what’s the harm in trying an injection” to dispense with a nagging back — they will be more aware of just how big the risk can be.