Here at Physio Performance people from Drogheda and the surrounding areas come to our clinic on a daily basis seeking pain relief for their back, knee, shoulder etc without the use of an injection or surgery.
But sometimes if you are at your wits end with pain and tried everything and your Doctor recommends a steroid injection to give you quick and permanent relief……it’s going to sound pretty attractive isn’t it!!
They might be correct if we only talk about “quick-relief” but we cannot be sure about the “permanent relief.”
Steroid Injections – What are they?
Steroid injections (also known as corticosteroid injections) contain anti-inflammatory medicines that decrease the inflammatory process going on in your body. They also have a pain suppressing effect.
Sounds like a no-brainer then? Suppress an anti-inflammatory process and relieve pain!! Why doesn’t everyone get one straight away then?
Unfortunately “Pain” is a little more complex than this and this where you must go next to determine if an injection is right for you.
Pain – What is it? (Complicated question & answer!)
We hear a lot about the word “pain,” but do you know what pain exactly is?
“An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” (International Association for the Study of Pain IASP)
What makes pain so complex is that it is not just a physical sensation. It is influenced by attitudes, beliefs, personality and social factors, and can affect emotional and mental wellbeing. It effects everyone differently.
Are there any different types of pain?
Yes there are different categories of pain and for the purpose of this article we will focus on two types of pain.
One is Chemical Pain, while the other is Mechanical Pain.
When there is something wrong in your body, and your body wants to fix it, it releases certain chemicals that trigger inflammation. Though inflammation sounds dangerous, it is actually a protective mechanism that helps healing in that area. These chemicals released by your body also irritate the sensory nerves present in that area, resulting in pain that is known as chemical pain.
Mechanical Pain is the second type of pain resulting from some mechanical problems (muscles weakness, joint positional faults, overload, improper movement techniques, etc.). Whenever you move that certain part, you feel pain.
Should I get a steroid injection for my pain relief?
As explained above, first you need to try and determine what type of pain you may be experiencing.
If you are continuously feeling pain in your body (joints, muscles, back) and it does not relieve even when you are resting, you might be suffering from Chemical Pain.
But if your pain comes and goes with specific movements and you have good and bad days, you probably have Mechanical Pain.
Steroid injections can be beneficial when a person is suffering from Chemical pain.
Research have shown little or no benefit for steroid injections in the long run when used for mechanical problems. (Kisner et al., 2017)
When should I get one?
As mentioned above, steroids have an anti-inflammatory role. If there is uncontrolled inflammation in your muscles, joints, or back, steroid injections may relieve the symptoms, and you’ll feel better.
You may consider getting a steroid injection when:
- It’s confirmed that inflammation is the root cause of your pain.
- Inflammation is not resolving on its own or by the medications.
- Movement strategies as prescribed by physiotherapists are not helping.
Conditions in which steroid injections are commonly used are inflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, plantar fasciitis, frozen shoulder, etc.
However controversy still exists about whether the use of steroid injections is beneficial or not.
Steroid Injection or Physiotherapy?
As the rehab specialists here in the Drogheda Area we always encourage that you should try physiotherapy treatment before opting for a steroid injection.
We can help you understand why your pain is there and what type of pain it is.
We can implement a comprehensive treatment plan to address the cause and not just treat the symptoms.
Education, Movement, Manual Therapy and Strength Exercises have all been proven to help all types of pain.
If physiotherapy can’t change your pain, at least you will have a better understanding of your pain and you will be better educated to help decide if a steroid injection is suitable for you.
If you are also struggling with pain please contact us here on 086-1958223 or Book an Appointment Online to see any of our Chartered Physios at Physio Performance Drogheda.