Epidural injections (“injection within the epidural space of the spinal cord”) with corticosteroids, lidocaine or opioids have no proven benefit in treating neck or upper back symptoms. In the instances that people find improvement, the effects are often temporary and require repeat injections, and several per year are not uncommon. There is also an increase in risk in contracting a spinal infection that can lead to meningitis. In fact, the results of a randomized, double-blind trial, published in the June 2003 issue of the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases indicated that an epidural steroid injection was no better than an epidural saline (“salt water”) Injection (i.e. placebo) for sciatica. These findings are consistent with those of another definitive trial presented at the last American College of Rheumatology meeting.
Given that there have been advances in spinal surgery, the outcomes can still be very unpredictable. In failed back surgery, post-operative pain syndrome is a very disabling and troubling reality of surgical intervention. According to the 2002 Johns Hopkins White Paper on “Low Back Pain and Osteoporosis “* by John P. Kostulk, M.D. and Simeon Margolis, M.D., PhD., surgery “is not the treatment of choice for most people with back pain.” The report goes on to say “fewer than 5% of people with back pain are good candidates for surgery”. “Surgery ought to be used when all other measures have been explored, and only if it appears that there is a strong probability that it will improve the condition.” An article in Spine reviewed the outcomes and complication rates for surgical intervention in degenerative disc disease. Complication rates were as high as 55% and included: hematoma, neurologic adjacent segment degeneration, infection and hardware/instrument-related issues. Another study determined the effects of single-level (2 vertebrae) and 2-level (3-4 vertebrae) spinal fusion success rates reported 53% with “good” and “fair” results with single- level fusion and no “good” results with 2-level fusions.
Having read about the possible side effects relating to these “traditional” treatments, you might want to consider the drugless, non-surgical approach that Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression has to offer.