Thinking about get an injection for your disc herniation in your low back? Struggling with sciatica too? My name is Dr. Grant Elliott here to talk to you about disc herniations and sciatica injections and why you might want to rethink these!
What Are These Injections For?
Injections for low back issues are usually medically defined as lumbar epidural steroid injections. These injections are prescribed very commonly for disc herniations and sciatica related issues. This could be local low back pain or sciatic nerve leg pain down 1 or both legs. These injections are supposed to provide an anti-inflammatory effect for these sensitive structures, but have developed an extreme over-prescription problem in our current healthcare system for disc herniation problems.
Injections are one of the most expensive bandaids ever. Are there unique circumstances where they can be worth it? Yes... but this is very rare and will be covered later in this article. I had an online low back client that was really struggling to find relief before contacting me and was told his injection would be covered by insurance. He wanted to give this a try before enrolling in my program in hopes that it would work but ended up being billed $4000 out of pocket for this simple procedure. It provided 1 day of relief. It is a real shame when insurance companies have corrupted and confused our healthcare system and can leave a large burden on the individual in need without anything to show for it.
This is a temporary procedure and will NOT change your low back strength, mobility, or your overall movement patterns and habits that got you into this position in the first place! This is crucial to understand! Much like putting a small bandaid on a large crack would do little to nothing in the long run of the progression of the crack, there is much more that needs to be done to effectively address sciatica nerve pain or disc herniation pain than an expensive quick fix.
How to Avoid Injections?
The most simple way to initially avoid injections is to not allow this to be your first recommendation! I have had many online low back clients that struggled to find relief, and often I hear the first recommendation for them was injections and drugs. This is not an effective initial course of action for long term relief.
The next step would then be to find a provider that is knowledgeable about low back issues that you trust and receive a proper assessment to accurately identify what the issue is and what it needs. Then based on this assessment a rehab program would be designed to address your issue specifically and would require commitment and dedication from you. We know that 97% of individuals with lumbar disc herniation can resolve without surgery if the right program is followed!
When Can Injections be Helpful?
Now it's not that these could never be helpful because there are unique circumstances where they might be. But about 99% of people out there with disc herniations and low back issues that go and get injections are not indicated. They hardly help for this reason. Of all the people across the world that I've talked to with low back issues and done online coaching with that have received injections, obviously none of them benefited because they're talking to me. It's a real problem! These injections will numb the pain for very small periods of time. Just imagine you're putting a pain relief cream on your low back that costs thousands of $$$. This is a similar concept and should be thought of as such.
Injections may be helpful if a few criteria are met...
A proper assessment has been conducted to accurately identify the problem
A properly structured rehab program has been attempted based on this assessment.
Nerve relief and disc relief exercises have been exhausted.
Inflammation has been identified as the reason for these lingering issues.
Nsaid's have been exhausted.
An oral steroid pack was not able to eliminate the symptoms to a sufficient degree.
If these measures have been taken, THEN you can consider pursuing an injection. This is the proper approach to determine the necessity! However, no one goes through this though and rather ends up getting an expensive injection first thing per the recommendation of their doctor (of which is normally not trained in this spine specific issues).
Can Injections be Harmful?
Based on a recent study in 2020 following almost 280,000 subjects with lumbar disc herniations, they found a 97% success rate with a proper rehab program. This leaves only 3% of individuals attempted a rehab plan and ended up needing surgery. Of these 3% a common characteristic was previous injections prior to the rehabilitation program. This leads us to believe that injections may increase the risk for need of surgery as it can negatively impact the rehab process. But once again if you've gone through a serious rehab program and you're still not getting results, then an injection could then be considered IF the rehab program was properly developed and was specifically targeting your needs. The issue arrises when we don't always know if the provider we see has the best things for us. We also want to ensure that the symptoms you are struggling with are appropriate for an injection. Do not do these prematurely!
What Should You Do?
This depends on what your goals are. Are you someone that wants to rely on the broken system that bankrupts you and leaves you without the education to fix yourself? Or are you self-motivated and able to commit to a plan that will change your strength, mobility, movement, and function for life?
Disc herniations and/or sciatica pain are the most common issues my clients struggle with in my online low back program. What is amazing is that we can resolve these issues in the comfort and convenience of your own home without the need for invasive procedures, injections, drugs, or surgery! We want to prevent these things so that you can save money and get better results! You don't want to be reliant on methods that you can't perform on your own otherwise you will still feel lost! You want to take things in your own hands. You need to know how to fix yourself and you need to know how to keep it that way for life!
What is the Next Step?
This can vary from person to person but in my experience with online clients around the world there is a similar pattern among many individuals with disc herniations or sciatica that is commonly missed. The majority of my clients in the RehabFix Online Low Back Program have had low back issues for years and have tried Chiro, PT, medication, injections, orthopedists - you name it! It seems like they all were missing some key components..... First I would recommend my free low back e-book that discusses multiple factors that contribute to lower back pain!
Then if you still feel like you are
missing out on your life at 100%
wasting thousands $$$ on interventions that aren't producing results
working with someone you feel does NOT care about YOUR GOALS
worried about this leading to drugs or surgery
Then it's time to take action! No time to waste!
✅ Ready to ATTACK Low Back Pain or Sciatica?
✅ Are you sick of guessing your way through this low back pain?
✅ Want to prevent drugs or surgery?
Thanks for reading! -Dr. Grant Elliott