Steroid injection linked with significant bone loss in postmenopausal women treated for back pain

December 1, 2012

Postmenopausal women suffered significant bone density loss in their hip after they were treated with an epidural steroid injection for back pain relief, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study

Bone density loss after six months was six times greater when compared to the typical seen in a year in a postmenopausal woman who doesn't receive steroid injection, researchers say.

Shlomo Mandel, M.D., a Henry Ford orthopedic physician and the study's lead author, says physicians should exercise caution prescribing an epidural steroid for select patients, suggesting that multiple injections may compromise bone strength.

"The findings of our study suggest that for back pain relief should be approached cautiously in patients at risk for bone fragility," Dr. Mandel says. "Physicians who do prescribe them should consider measures that optimize such as calcium and vitamin D supplements and exercise as part of their patient's treatment plan.

The study will be published in the Dec. 1 edition of Spine.

Back pain is one of the most common medical conditions in the United States, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. As people age, their spine ages with them, causing degenerative changes in the spine.

Patients are typically treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy. If symptoms persist, an epidural steroid is often prescribed to alleviate pain and improve function. However, steroid use has been linked to diminished bone quality.

In the observational study, Henry Ford sought to evaluate whether steroid injections used for treating lumbar stenosis, increased the risk of bone loss in postmenopausal women. Lumbar stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spine canal. Twenty-eight patients, aged 65 and older and treated between 2007-2010, were evaluated for bone loss using bone density testing and serum prior to receiving an injection, then at three- and six-month intervals.

The bone loss data was compared to data for who hadn't been treated with an epidural injection.

"Patients receiving multiple steroid injections with a history of steroid exposure may be especially susceptible to compromised ," Dr. Mandel says.

Explore further: Steroid injection linked to increased risk of bone fractures

Related Stories

Steroid injection linked to increased risk of bone fractures

October 25, 2012
Patients treated with an epidural steroid injection for back pain relief are at increased risk of bone fractures in the spine, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.

Teriparatide ups bone union for women with osteoporosis

November 3, 2012
(HealthDay)—Injections of teriparatide are more effective than oral bisphosphonate for bone union after instrumented lumbar posterolateral fusion in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis, according to a study published ...

Biomarker may signal whether common back pain treatment will work, doctor finds

August 11, 2011
A new study from researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has identified a unique protein complex that can be used to predict whether an epidural steroid injection will help relieve pain caused by a herniated ...

Study shows exercise can improve bone density in postmenopausal women

November 20, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A study by researchers in the West Virginia University School of Public Health and the University of Colorado shows that exercise can improve bone density in postmenopausal women.

Drug prevents bone loss side effects of breast cancer medication

October 10, 2011
A new study has found that an osteoporosis drug protects against the bone damaging side effects of certain breast cancer medications. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, ...

Researchers find epidural steroid injections do not benefit spine patients

February 7, 2012
Researchers at the Rothman Institute at Jefferson examined data on patients being treated for lumbar stenosis and the degenerative spine condition spondylolisthesis and found that patients who received epidural steroid injections ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.