A single glucocorticoid injection offers short-term relief of chronic back pain associated with discopathy, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. But the benefits are not long-lasting.
Some 135 patients with daily low back pain of at least 3 months’ duration and active discopathy on magnetic resonance imaging were randomized to receive either a single glucocorticoid intradiscal injection or a control injection during discography. At baseline, all participants had scores of 40 or higher on a 100-point scale measuring back pain intensity.
The primary outcome — achievement of pain scores below 40 at 1 month — occurred significantly more often in the intervention versus control group (55% vs. 33% of patients). However, beginning at 3 months, intervention patients reported increases in pain, and by 12 months, pain intensity was similar in the two groups.
The researchers say the efficacy of the intervention “is questionable.”