Oct 04, 2013 – How it Works

October 4, 2013

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ANCHOR LEAD: WHY WOULD SALINE WORK AS WELL AS STEROIDS FOR LOW BACK PAIN INJECTIONS? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Saline injections may work as well as steroid injections in alleviating low back pain, a Johns Hopkins study led by Mark Bicket suggests. But why would a simple salt solution have such an impact on the complex cascade of factors involved in chronic pain? Bicket responds.

BICKET: We go into the back space, the epidural space and inject the what we call saline, kind of like salt water. Some thoughts have been that perhaps the salt water goes in and helps to wash out some of the inflammation chemicals that are present there, and perhaps by making them less concentrated, or perhaps by even pushing them away that helps to reduce an individual’s pain, and it still is an active area of study. There at least has been a few other studies that have led us to think about that. :27

Bicket says there’s no question that the so-called placebo effect, where a supposedly inactive treatment works as well as the active one, has been seem many times before. For now he suggests that people concerned about steroids may chose a saline injection instead, but that rigorous study is clearly needed.

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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