Oral Steroids

Oral Steroids for Neck Pain

Oral steroids are a non-narcotic medication used to reduce inflammation in conditions such as chronic neck pain. They are only intended to be used for a short period of time (one to two weeks) and usually start on a high dose and taper off towards the end of the prescription. Sometimes these medications are used for epidural steroid injections, and include cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisone amongst others. Short-term oral steroid use is usually free from severe complications but patients should take these risks into account when deciding if they are an appropriate element of their therapeutic strategy for managing neck pain.

Upfront Considerations

As steroids down-regulate the immune system it is important that patients with infections or an increased susceptibility to infection be wary of steroids.

Similarly, anyone with an auto-immune disease must exercise extreme caution with oral steroids and ensure that their physician is aware of their full medical history before prescribing any medication. If patients have evidence of inflammation in the neck which is causing them pain then a physician may prescribe oral steroids. Usually, however, a doctor will try to reduce the amount of pain medication that they prescribe, preferring physical therapy, and other alternative treatments for neck pain.

Checking for bulging or herniated discs using MRI scans or x-rays is also important so as to not delay surgical treatment unnecessarily if cervical spinal nerves are being significantly compressed. Oral steroids may be appropriate in cases where over-the-counter medications, such as NSAIDs, no longer relieve pain, although a reliance on these drugs themselves can also have serious side-effects. Diabetics, and pre-diabetics, should exercise caution with oral steroids as they can significantly affect blood sugar levels. Discussing the options for pain and inflammation management with an experienced physician will help decide the appropriateness of oral steroids as a component of neck pain treatment modalities.

Next read about: How Oral Steroids Work




Last Updated: 12/16/2010