The majority of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and the costs for treating back pain can increase significantly after it is diagnosed. Dr. Eric Sun, in his findings presented at the American Academy of Pain Medicine 2016 Annual Meeting, indicated that steroid injections can not only help alleviate pain and disability, but have also been associated with a decrease in healthcare expenses in patients with lumbago, radiculitis, and sciatica treatments. “Low back pain affects a lot of people, and there are some growing questions,” said Sun. “We’re spending a lot of money treating it, and is that money well spent? What are we getting for all that we spend? Is it making people live more pain-free lives?”
Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI)
Many spinal conditions may cause inflammation or pressure on nerve roots leading out of the spine, resulting in pain, tingling or numbness along those nerves. An injection of corticosteroid into the epidural space of the spine may be used to reduce the inflammation around the spinal nerves and provide relief. But can they relieve the pain in your wallet too?
New research suggests that epidural steroid injections could help cut medical costs by nearly 20 percent. Dr. Sun and his team say the injections help reduce costs by decreasing the need for general practitioner visits and lab tests. “What you find here is that the cost falls a lot faster with the people who got the epidural steroid injections. So that provides some evidence that it actually saves money,” said Sun.
Tracking the Pain
Dr. Sun and his team looked at patients who received an epidural injection within the first 90 days of being diagnosed with back pain, which is the period where most patients experience a sharp increase in medical costs. But by reducing the need for outpatient spending, such as follow-up general practitioner visits, lab tests, and imaging, receiving an injection appeared to decrease in patient financial burden.
“What you find here is that the cost falls a lot faster with the people who got the epidural steroid injections. So that provides some evidence that it actually saves money,” said Sun.
Sun’s data shows that patients experiencing pain from sciatica spent 7.5% less on healthcare than patients who sought other treatments, and those experiencing pain from radiculitis spent 16.4% less!
This research shows that injections may be the least financially painful way to alleviate your back pain. If you need more information or want to discuss your treatment options, the SpineOne schedulers will be happy to give you the information you need to make informed decisions about your health.