Pauza Blog

Spine Epidural Corticosteroid Injections Lack FDA Approval

  Did you know Spine Epidural Corticosteroid Injections Lack FDA approval? Many doctors and patients don’t recognize spine epidural injections lack FDA approval. These frequent injections are done in spite of research that shows they may cause long term harm to the patients. Not only are epidural injections not FDA approved, they are covered by insurance. This fact leaves many scratching their heads. Why is it that many insurance providers continue to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year for epidural injections even though they don’t provide a solution to the problem? Ironically, many vials of corticosteroids have warning labels on them in bold letters communicating against its use for epidurals, yet they continue to be used.  Why do insurance providers cover a procedure that is not FDA approved, yet turn their heads away from the positive research that regenerative techniques provide?   

  Many Physicians around the country inject corticosteroids in the epidural space for back pain in high volume numbers. Did you know the amount of these injections are usually limited per patient to just a few times a year to protect the patient? This is because there's a chance these drugs might weaken your spinal bones and nearby muscles because of the side effect of the steroids in these injections. Several side effects of these injections include: skin thinning, loss of color in the skin, facial flushing, insomnia, moodiness and high blood sugar. The risk of side effects increases with the number of steroid injections the patient receives, thus the reason they are limited to a a few injections a year. These steroid epidural injections contain drugs that mimic the effects of the hormones, cortisone and hydrocortisone. When injected near irritated nerves in your spine, the medications may temporarily reduce inflammation and help relieve pain, however, research from clinics such as the MayoClinic suggest they may cause more long-term harm than good, especially for patients who have been doing them year after year. So why are we continuing to do them in alarming numbers? Possibly because epidural injections are a convenient option to patients suffering in pain and most often covered by insurance, which is appealing to the patient. Many patients tend to choose insurance covered options verses out of pocket regenerative treatments, even though they may not be in their best interest.  

It is a mission of not only Dr Pauza’s, but many other pioneers in the field of regenerative medicine, to see insurance companies give credit to the scientific research that proves many medical procedures that use natural biologics, provide promising solutions for patients in pain.


Author: Carrie Aurelius Wright, Director of Biologics for Kevin Pauza MD