A Henry Ford Hospital study found that postmenopausal women who get epidural steroid injection for their back pain are at significant risk for bone loss.
Dr. Shlomo Mandel, a Henry Ford orthopedic physician and the study’s lead author, says physicians should be cautious when prescribing an epidural steroid for some patients because multiple injections may have adverse effects on bone strength, the Medical News Today reports.
“The findings of our study suggest that epidural steroid injections for back pain relief should be approached cautiously in patients at risk for bone fragility,” Mandel said. “Physicians who do prescribe them should consider measures that optimize bone health such as calcium and vitamin D supplements and exercise as part of their patient’s treatment plan.”
The study, published in the journal Spine, evaluated twenty-eight patients, aged 65 and older and treated between 2007-2010. These patients had undergone bone density testing and serum biochemical markers prior to receiving an injection, then at three- and six-month intervals. The researchers then compared the bone loss data of postmenopausal women who received epidural steroid injection to the bone loss data of those who did not receive the injection. They found that bone density loss was six times greater in those who had steroid injection than the typical bone density loss seen in a year in those who did not have the injection.
“Patients receiving multiple steroid injections with a history of steroid exposure may be especially susceptible to compromised bone strength,” Mandel added.