St Louis Spine and Joint Pain Specialists
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In pain management, steroid injections are a very common tool for treating pain. From muscle strains, to ligament sprains, and even pinched nerves, the first line treatment often includes an injection. The injection is made of a concoction of 2 medications: a numbing medication and a steroid. Specifically, the steroid used is called a corticosteroid.
There are lots of types of ‘steroids’. Professional weight lifters often times take a steroid called an anabolic steroid to gain muscle faster. Females even take the steroids estrogen and progesterone in the form of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Some males take the steroid testosterone when their levels begin to drop as they age. As you can see, steroids are a large category. A steroid known as a corticosteroid is the specific one that physicians use when targeting inflammation and the one this article focuses on.
So then what causes inflammation and why do we care if corticosteroids get rid of it? Inflammation is your body’s initial reaction to some sort of trauma, no matter how big or small. Inflammation can happen from spraining your ankle playing basketball, straining your back from lifting a suit case, or repetitive stress from playing golf too frequently; any sort of injury causes inflammation.
We want to get rid of inflammation because inflammation causes pain. Inflammation causes the injured area to swell. As the area swells, your nerves have no place to hide. This places pressure on your nerves which then send a pain signal to your brain. This inflammation also causes an increased number of something called ‘white blood cells’. While well intentioned, white blood cells can cause pain or make it worse by increasing the swelling and aggravating the surrounding nerves by sending pain signals to the brain. In essence, corticosteroids help with pain relief by getting rid of the swelling and white blood cells which then stop the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain.
Pinched nerves, myofascial pain, arthritis, muscle strains, and ligament sprains, are just some examples of pain from inflammation. All of these causes of pain, and many more, can be treated with corticosteroids to help get rid of inflammation