The theme around these two studies is for the potential to use less invasive or risky procedures to help those who suffer from back pain. As a Miami personal injury lawyer, many of my clients complain of lower-back pain following a recent car accident injury. If physical-therapy does not help, injection therapy and surgery are often the only treatments that offer the potential for long-term relief; both of which come with significant risks.
Injecting Fluids, Such as Saline, May Be Just as Effective as Steroids
Johns Hopkins University published a meta-study in October, 2013 in the Journal: Anesthesiology that reviewed dozens of other studies on the subject of comparing back pain relief in patients who received epidural steroid injections (in the spinal canal) vs. injecting steroids in muscles near the spinal canal vs. inert control fluids such as saline.
This is an important subject because steroids are not terribly healthy for your body – they can cause spikes in blood-sugar in diabetics, weaken bones in osteoarthritic women, slow recovery times after surgeries, and more. In addition, spine-related pain is one of the foremost complaints of disability in first-world countries.
The study found that injections of steroids into the epidural area was twice as likely to provide relief to those suffering from back pain compared to those who received intra-muscular injections; no surprise there. What was a bit more interesting was that the researchers found that when even saline alone is injected into the epidural area were also twice as good as providing relief when compared to intra-muscular injections of steroids. So the relief that back-pain sufferers are feeling may not be from the steroids but from the injection of any kind of fluid.
The need for further study was emphasized before altering the steroid treatment regimen that has been utilized for half a centura, but suggests that doctors may consider using smaller doses of steroids in some of their patients.
Chinese Herbs For Spinal Cord Injury Victims?
The August 2013 issue of the Journal: Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience published a study conducted at McMaster University in Canada was focused on a Chinese herb known as Ji-Sui-Kang (JSK), a proprietary composition of herbs that includes ginseng, rhizome, cinnamomi cortex, glycyrrhizae, and Paeoniae alba radic among others. JSK was given to rats for three weeks immediately after spinal-cord injury. Within a week, oxygen supplied to the injured area was higher and leg motor function was markedly better in those rats who received JSK compared to those that did not receive the herb. After three weeks, JSK-treated rats were better able to support their body weight and seemed to exhibit better coordination. Examinations of the spinal cords revealed a better-preserved spine with smaller apparent injury area with more tissue recovery, less inflammation around the injury area and healthier cells.
Certainly, additional studies involving humans are needed.