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Steroid Injections

Norton Shores Michigan Chiropractor - By now, just about everybody has heard about the outbreak of a rare form of fungal meningitis that was caused by a “bad batch” of steroid injections.  These injections are commonly used in patients for the treatment of back pain.  This outbreak occurred back in September of 2012 and resulted in more than 400 cases of meningitis nationwide, 32 of which died from the illness.  Michigan led the way with more than 230 cases and 10 deaths.

Some would call this a “fluke.”

A “rare case.”

“Nothing to worry about.”

Tell that to the more than 30 families who spent Christmas without their mother, father, brother, or sister.

Well, it turns out that it WASN’T a fluke.  A recent inspection by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health was telling.   According to their findings, floor mats near supposedly sterile drug mixing areas were "visibly soiled with assorted debris."  Furthermore, a leak from a nearby boiler created an "environment susceptible to contaminant growth," according to the report.    The FDA later found bacterial contaminations in more batches of injectable steroids in the same manufacturing facility.

Whenever you put something foreign in your body, especially when it is injected, you are taking a big risk with your health.  And these poor victims weren’t receiving critical care, where the cost benefit ratio is more acceptable in regards to side effects.  These people had back pain.  The same type of back pain that we chiropractors treat in our offices every day.

To be fair, chiropractic care is not a cure-all and does not work for every case of back pain.  Some peoples’ spines are too far gone due to years of neglect and deterioration.  But I can tell you that I have seen dozens of patients in my practice who used to get steroid injections but no longer need to since starting treatment.  Who knows how many lives would have been spared if some of these victims tried non-invasive therapies instead of getting steroid injections?  We will never know.

In fact, it is always best to start with non-invasive methods of back pain treatment first.  If all that fails, then (and only then) should one consider invasive therapies like injections, drugs, and surgery.  Each of these treatments have risks.  The meningitis outbreak serves as a grim reminder of this fact.  However, in addition to just "getting a bad batch," steroid injections are linked to infection and permanent damage.   A recent study linked steroid injections with loss of bone mass, which leads to osteoporosis, a very common problem in the U.S.

So get your weight under control.  Get more sleep.  Improve your flexibility.  Manage your stress.  Consider consulting a chiropractor.  By naturally managing your back pain you can insulate yourself from the pitfalls of more invasive treatments.

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Dr. PlemonDr. Jared Plemon BS, DC is a doctor of chiropractic at Zehr Chiropractic in Norton Shores, Michigan.  He specializes in the treatment of neck pain, back pain, and extremity pain utilizing cutting edge, non-manipulative chiropractic techniques.  He blogs about nutrition, exercise, and how chiropractic care fits in with the overall health landscape.  He lives in West Michigan with his wife and two children.

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