Note: This warning does not apply to dry-needling or injection of other substances.
While steroid injections have worked very successfully for a handful of patients, most get only temporary relief at best. This has become a “standard” pain management procedure despite its risks (See https://edsinfo.wordpress.com/tag/spinal-injection/), so this action is long overdue.
The FDA’s warning came a little late as other agencies across the globe have placed stricter restrictions on the use of corticosteroids in the back and neck. Researchers and patient advocates have been asking the FDA for several years to act on their requests.
A study published in the Journal Spine last 2007 showed 78 cases of patients who were injected with steroid injections in the neck suffered injuries that included 13 deaths. The injections were connected to paralysis or loss of vision in patients.
The FDA said in 2011 that it was looking at safety issues connected to the shots. They said that they were first concerned about the steroid shots in 2009. According to FDA spokeswoman Sandy Walsh, the warning was the result of an ongoing research to find out the causes of serious neurologic events with the shots and found ways to decrease the risks.
The warning made by the FDA highlighted the imperfect science of treating neck and back pains. Surgeries are invasive and are not effective all the time. Other treatments are still untested but are being marketed on TV and on the Internet. Spinal injections are non-invasive but they come with serious risks. The FDA said it was not done yet with its study on the safety of the injections and the warning doesn’t ban doctors from giving injections