CorticoSteroid Epidural Injections Warning by FDA

The FDA has issued a warning to medical professionals who use corticosteroid mediations for epidural injection for relief of pain. This measure was instituted after a number of serious reactions were reported in patients who received this treatment. Patient with long-term back or neck pain should consider the risks before undergoing this type of treatment for pain management.

Corticosteroid Medications

Steroids are powerful medications that are often used to reduce inflammation and pain caused by a number of medical conditions. A growing trend toward using these medications for spinal problems has brought attention to some of the serious reactions associated with its use. These drugs are injected into the spine using a number of different techniques. Corticosteroid drugs are available under a number of different names. Betamethasone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, dexamethasone, and triamcinolone are just a few forms that are commonly used by physicians.

Epidural Corticosteroid Injection Procedures

Corticosteroid injections have become a popular method for treating low back pain, spinal stenosis pain, and nerve problems that radiate into the extremities. In this procedure, x-rays help to guide the physician into the correct position for injection of the medication. The surface skin is numbed with a local anesthetic. The medication is then deposited around the appropriate nerve root. Although the procedure has been considered low risk with only a few problems of inflammation of nerves or elevation of blood sugar, more serious effects have been reported that have made the procedure controversial.

FDA Warning

On April 23, 2014, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a warning for the use of corticosteroid epidural injections for treating back, neck, and radiating pain in the arms and legs. Some rare but serious reactions were reported that cause the agency to issue this warning. Corticosteroid epidural injections used for these purposes can cause vision loss, strokes, paralysis, and sudden death.

Recommendations for Use

Patients should explore other options before undergoing epidural corticosteroid injection treatment. Discuss the benefits and risks of this treatment thoroughly with your physician before consenting to the treatment. Problems resulting from epidural corticosteroid injections are generally associated with physicians that have undergone minimal training in the procedure. Always ensure that your doctor is board-certified to ensure that he or she has sufficient training in the procedure to do it safely.