Danger of Steroid Injections

Steroid injections are frequently used for “Interventional Pain Management”, despite their dangers and increasing warnings from the FDA.

Still, these procedures are a mainstay of the non-opioid treatments recommended by the CDC. While they can work miracles for some people, their effects are additive over time and eventually become destructive.

Additionally, due to the exactness whereby this procedure is performed, there is no margin for human error. The needle must be placed in the tiny space (~one millimeter) between the ligamentum flavum (ligament between vertebrae) and the actual spinal cord (nerve trunk).

The picture below shows why there is such a high probability of mistakes in needle placement:

In this context, “steroids” refer to corticosteroids, like prednisone, NOT anabolic steroidslike testosterone.

From Wikipedia:

I’ve been warning about epidural steroid injections literally for years:








The article below is from a fellow researcher and longtime Inspire.com-EDNF forum member, “SlapASmileOn”.

Steroids break down collagen cells. Steroid injections hasten the damage to your connective tissue, something that those with EDS really do not help with. Oral steroids do this, though injections with steroids damage the tissue that much more quickly. The damage may not be seen or felt immediately, but the cumulative effect can cause you to have much greater instability, pain, and damage. Thus steroid treatments should not be thought of as a long-term solution.

As an example, you can see where steroid injections are used to purposely break down collagen in scar revisions: http://www.kpcosmeticservices.com/services/scar-revision.cfm

This link talks about collagen necrosis (death of the tissue) increases with steroid injections for plantar fasciitis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684947/

And this link is about tricep tendons rupturing following steroid injections following rotator cuff injuries: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071041/

Finally, this study showed bone loss and an increased risk of bone fractures in post-menopausal women who received steroid injections in the hip: http://journals.lww.com/spinejournal/Abstract/2012/12010/Effect_of_Epidural _Steroid_Injection_on_Bone.13.aspx

These linked articles demonstrate the damage to tissue of those with “normal” tissue. So extrapolate what happens in our bodies where the defect in collagen that makes up that tissue is injected with steroids or when they are taken orally for distribution throughout the body. The damage occurs that much more easily and/or that much more significantly.

While specific studies of prednisone and EDS have not been done, there have been studies which suggest this should not be used if other options exist.

For instance, in this study, Prednisone was shown to inhibit Connective Tissue Growth Factor (CTGF) (yes, we need that to build our connective tissue) in mice: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21699635

And another one where long-term usage in a 13-year-old boy was shown to degrade his costal cartilage: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2032211/

However… oral hormonal steroids, like androgens, can be also be used as a treatment modality for chronic pain. See:


20 thoughts on “Danger of Steroid Injections

  1. Pingback: An opioid guideline from ASIPP | EDS Info (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome)

  2. Pingback: So, What IS Pain Management? | EDS Info (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome)

  3. Pingback: Spinal Injections Coverage ‘a Win for Back Pain Patients’ | EDS Info (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome)

  4. ladytappe

    I had injections in my thumbs at my rheumatologist’s office. I really got talked into the shots because I did not want them and had turned them down several times before. Boy, do I wish I would have followed my instincts and declined the shots one more time.
    It was not too bad on the way home from the doctors office, just an ache at the base of both thumbs. A few hours later I was in tears and excruciating pain. I could not pick up a cup or even use a cigarette lighter, I could not even get my underwear down to use the bathroom! The pain lasted about 36 hours and thank god my husband was home to help me.
    I had previously had three in my back and they did nothing for me but they did not cause a bad reaction. Never again! Keep the shots unless they are the alcoholic kind!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Zyp Czyk Post author

        It’s good to hear that this treatment can sometimes be so effective.

        I guess it’s like the lottery: mostly you lose and it doesn’t work, but sometimes under some conditions you hit the jackpot, and then it looks like the risk is worth it.

        I would be far more willing to try these injections in my thumb, but not for the complexity of my spine and all its quirks.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Emily Raven

    Omg thank you so much for confirming my suspicions before I get railroaded into this! I have first hand experience with how excellent even small amounts of steroids break down collagen (I have hypertrophic and keloid scars and had this done by a wonderful derm on a couple and it worked beautifully) and it really got me wondering what all it could do to my poor already messed up ligaments. The information I have found within your blogs has truly been a godsend for someone fighting for a diagnosis trying to figure out “what won’t kill/cripple me more in the meantime.” Thank you so much!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I’m so glad my blog is useful!

      Finding all these articles has certainly taught me more than I expected to know. It’s as though the Internet was invented just for info-junkies like me :-)

      Liked by 2 people

  6. jax954

    I have had lot’s of injections only way I was allowed to get my pain medication and let me tell you I went from 137 lbs to 220 lbs, couldn’t walk 20 feet. I left pain management after talking to my PCP and he took over my care, got me approved for Gastric by pass surgery, I have lost 70+ lbs, I now can walk, but my back is so weak I lean to my right side, the side where my pain is the worse and injections that by the way didn’t work went. I will never have another. I’m so scared of losing my medication that I have planned a way to commit suicide if the pain gets to where I can no longer have any quality of life. I love my doctor he has fought for me to get my medication so hard, I do all the right things. Because some addict wants to overdose we should be punish just not right. Having a bad night sorry for the rant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I think it’s almost malpractice when we are coerced into treatment we don’t want and doesn’t work just to get the effective treatment we do want – this would never be allowed with any other ailment.

      I’m glad you have a good doctor – so do I. They may be forced to reduce our opioids if they work in a larger organization that makes the decision, but at least our pain is believed by one doctor. I found that very validating after being disbelieved by so many others.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Top 15 posts of 2016 – 5 Warnings | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

  8. Eden Everly

    “Extrapolating” is not science. This is a HUGE problem in EDS community and a blog is not a scientific research. There are very high standards for research and it’s not causal, so frankly, how dare you. And all these folks jumping on the band wagon then passing this garbage to all these “EDSers” on social media is irresponsible. I’ve had it with you folks, for real, and whether or not you think you’re right or are right isn’t even the point. You need to stop this. I’m not sure how you continue to get away with it, but you are a vocal few who claim to speak for all. You sure as hell dont speak for me. You’re not doing us any favors. At all. And that you can’t see this is an even bigger problem. Find another hobby. Jesus. You could be keeping people in severe pain from getting treatment that could give them tremendous relief, worth “risks” and they should get to make that choice with good information and not swayed by fear. That’s on your head.


    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Who are you and why are you so angry with EDSers who exchange information and experiences? I’ve learned very many useful things from other people with EDS.

      These injections have long been warned against by the FDA – isn’t that based on science?

      The problem is there’s little science behind these injections. Can you find as many studies showing them advantageous? To all patients for all pain as recommended by the CDC?

      What about those suffering permanent injuries from these injections? Like my mother? Shall I tell her don’t worry, there’s this other person on the internet that thinks we are full of sh*t, so let’s all go and have another injection?


      I’ve never said no one can benefit ever, but these injections are being used indiscriminately by less than proficient providers sometimes and that is just plain dangerous.

      Why are you so nasty to me when you don’t have the slightest clue who I am? This is literally and by far the most personally vicious comment I’ve ever received in all the years of the blog. I didn’t think people like you would even be interested in my blog, yet you seem fascinated.

      What happened to you to make you so furious and unhinged about a faceless Internet blogger?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Judith

    Sounds like you have a troll. :( …. I would like to ask that you make sure to use ALL reputable sources for your information, the only thing here I object to is quoting Wikipedia. As a former newspaper and magazine editor, I never allowed my writers to quote Wikipedia. It is not a 100 percent trustworthy source. Use it to get started on your understanding of difficult subjects, but always cross reference. Thanks! And thank you for the work you’re doing, here. I was seeking Pain Magement care until they told me all they do are injections and opioids. I’m allergic to opioids, and I see steroid injections may not be a safe option, either. Having also so many weird allergies- actually mast cell reactions – plus this concern of breaking down connective tissue- I don’t want to risk it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      MCAS seems like a nightmare – from what I’ve read, it can mess up the body in so many ways that you’d always wonder what was going on to make you feel so awful and what to do about it. By comparison, I’m grateful that I’m only dealing with pain and fatigue!


  10. Pingback: Epidural Steroid Injections: Danger Worth the Benefits? | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

  11. Pingback: How the war on opioids has harmed some patients – Daily News Appraisal

Other thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.