Study explores efficacy of oral steroids in treating sciatica
Statistics show that close to one in ten people will suffer from a condition known as sciatica at some point in their life. For those unfamiliar with sciatica, it is typically caused by a herniated or bulging disc in the lower back, and characterized by a sharp, radiating pain in the legs and back.
While there are multiple treatments for sciatica-related pain, including physical therapy and surgery, the one that is undertaken by doctors rather regularly is a regimen of oral steroids.
Interestingly enough, a recently published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that this method of treatment might not be as effective in treating sciatica-related pain as doctors might think.
As part of the study, researchers at California's Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center randomly divided 269 confirmed sciatica sufferers into two groups: One given a 15-day regimen of the oral steroid prednisone and one given a 15-day regimen of placebo pills.
After following each study participant for more than a year, the researchers determined the following:
- The group treated with the oral steroid reported only a minor improvement in overall functioning at three weeks and one year.
- The group treated with the oral steroid reported the same level of pain as the group treated with the placebo at three weeks and one year.
- The group treated with the oral steroid was no more or no less likely as the group treated with the placebo to undergo spinal surgery at three weeks and one year.
According to the researchers, these findings don't necessarily mean that oral steroids should be completely abandoned as a treatment for sciatica, but rather should provide physicians and patients with another talking point in treatment discussions.
Interestingly, some medical professionals indicated that the study demonstrates how sometimes the best course of action in treating sciatica is simply to allow the body to heal itself.
If debilitating back pain has made it impossible for you to work, consider speaking with a skilled and compassionate legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your options concerning Social Security disability benefits.