The Pros and Cons of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Mar 7, 2024 | Pain Management

At any given moment, millions of people are suffering from back pain. While it can be caused by a variety of issues — injuries, illness, poor posture, or underlying health conditions — there’s one thing all back pain patients have in common: they need relief. 

There are almost as many different kinds of treatments for chronic pain as there are conditions that cause it. From medication to meditation, people are eager to try any therapy that can potentially reduce or eliminate their suffering. 

One solution that’s gained popularity in recent years is the use of steroid injections to alleviate this discomfort. Do they actually work? Are they safe? And where can you get one? 

The Science Behind Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Steroid injections, also known as corticosteroid injections, involve injecting a mix of local anesthetic and steroid medication into the area of the back where the pain is occurring. Its purpose is to reduce inflammation around the nerves, alleviating pressure and lessening the pain signals sent to the brain. 

The anesthetic can help provide immediate relief by numbing the area, while the steroids work over a longer period to reduce inflammation and subsequently, the pain. Injections allow for a more targeted delivery of the medication, concentrating the effects on a specific area (as opposed to oral steroids which can affect the entire body). 

Pros of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Before making any healthcare decision, it’s vital that you talk first with your doctor. They can help you understand the pros and cons of steroid injections for back pain. 

Most patients experience several benefits to using steroid injections for back pain relief. Keep in mind that every individual is unique and can respond to any type of treatment differently, including the possibility of it having little to no effect. 

Quick Relief

Steroid injections often provide immediate relief due to the local anesthetic — which is significant for patients who have already endured debilitating back pain for weeks or months.


Surgery is often a last resort or used only in severe cases. A steroid injection is a more appealing choice because it’s a minimally invasive procedure that doesn’t require lengthy recovery times or pose higher health risks that come with surgery.

Long-Lasting Relief

While not guaranteed, and with results that vary from patient to patient, many people do experience long-lasting relief from their back pain after receiving a steroid injection.

Can Be Used With Other Treatments

Steroid injections can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may also include physical therapy, medication, or lifestyle changes.

Cons of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Despite the clear benefits, steroid injections can have some potential drawbacks that need to be considered by both the patient and their healthcare provider:

Potential Side Effects

While generally safe for the majority of patients, steroid injections can lead to side effects such as infection at the point of injection, allergic reactions, bleeding, or potential nerve damage.

May Not Provide Long-Term Relief

Steroid injections provide temporary relief and are not a cure for the underlying cause of back pain. Every patient’s pain is unique, and some patients find that their pain returns after the effects of the injection wear off.

Risks Associated With Repeated Injections

Repeated steroid injections can lead to weakened muscles and bones in the injection area. Your physician or care provider should keep a close eye on your body if multiple injections are used over the course of your treatment.

Not Effective for All Types of Back Pain

Steroid injections are not an effective treatment for all types of chronic back pain, such as pain caused by spinal stenosis or herniated discs.

Overcome Your Pain With HPM

At HPM, we understand the debilitating effects that chronic pain can have on a person’s life. Our team of highly trained medical professionals makes the effort to identify the true source of each patient’s pain.

We create a personalized treatment plan that may involve nerve blocks, trigger point injections, or radiofrequency ablations depending on your unique needs. Our goal is to help you find the most effective solution for your pain, get you back to doing the things you love, and improve your quality of life.

Visit our website to find an HPM location near you. Together, we can work towards a life free of chronic pain.