FDA Warns of Dangers of Epidural Spinal Injections

cortisone-spinal-epiduralWhile the Ehlers-Danlos Community has known for some time about the deleterious effects of corticosteriods on collagen, the FDA has recently released a statement that they are now requiring additional labeling on the use of corticosteriods for Epidural Spinal Injections used to treat back pain. They state:

…injection of corticosteroids into the epidural space of the spine may result in rare but serious adverse events, including loss of vision, stroke, paralysis, and death. The injections are given to treat neck and back pain, and radiating pain in the arms and legs. We are requiring the addition of a Warning to the drug labels of injectable corticosteroids to describe these risks. Patients should discuss the benefits and risks of epidural corticosteroid injections with their health care professionals, along with the benefits and risks associated with other possible treatments.

Injectable corticosteroids are commonly used to reduce swelling or inflammation. Injecting corticosteroids into the epidural space of the spine has been a widespread practice for many decades; however, the effectiveness and safety of the drugs for this use have not been established, and FDA has not approved corticosteroids for such use. We started investigating this safety issue when we became aware of medical professionals’ concerns about epidural corticosteroid injections and the risk of serious neurologic adverse events.1 This concern prompted us to review cases in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) database and in the medical literature (see Data Summary).2-16

To raise awareness of the risks of epidural corticosteroid injections in the medical community, FDA’s Safe Use Initiative convened a panel of experts, including pain management experts to help define the techniques for such injections which would reduce preventable harm. The expert panel’s recommendations will be released when they are finalized (fda.gov).

It has long been known in the zebra community that corticosteriods contribute to the breakdown of collagen, which is why most of us caution their use in only the most dire of circumstances or not at all. It would appear there is even more reason for concern when it comes to spinal injection, which leads me to question how this substance can be safe for injection anywhere in the body, though the statement doesn’t explain if these injuries and deaths usually occur due to the procedure, the substance itself, or perhaps both. I look forward to the FDA’s final findings on this topic and frankly hope that corticosteroids are removed from use once their investigation is completed.

As usual, I caution you to stay safe and question everything you put into your bodies, my friends. This is a drug that has been in use for many decades, without warning of any kind that these things have been taking place until now, but you can believe these warnings (and more) are on the waivers we all sign but pay little attention to at the doctor’s offices and clinics where we have these procedures.

Need a natural anti-inflammatory? Check out some of the ones I use on my list of supplements.

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5 thoughts on “FDA Warns of Dangers of Epidural Spinal Injections

  1. My (former) neurologist said he “knew all about EDS” (yeah right), misdiagnosed my EDS-induces tiredness as CFS and offered me steroid infusions. I declined and vowed to find someone else. Glad I listened to my gut on this one.

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    1. I’m glad you did, too! I’m sorry to say I had quite a few steroid injections before I suspected this was my diagnosis and unsurprisingly, they usually made things worse. I’ve also had extensive damage from the use of floroquinolones. I’m fairly certain Cipro was responsible for my Achilles shredding on a leisurely walk up some stairs in college and had no choice but to be on it again a few years ago during a c-diff infection. It was NOT good! The ignorance of most doctors makes it pretty much essential to educate ourselves and make the best decisions possible, because doctors will often give us bad advice. I fear those who claim to know and don’t more than those who will admit their ignorance. To try to protect against some of this, my new GP and I put these drugs in my list of “allergens” and noted their effects. I’m not sure it’s the best way to do it, but I feel better having it listed on my chart so some know-it-all ER intern is less likely to argue with me.

      I have a CFS diagnosis, too. I got it before my EDS dx and they won’t take it off. I did have severe fatigue, caused by being an untreated trifecta zebra. I wonder all the time how many CFS people are misdiagnosed, but with the the new hereditary a-trypasemia diagnosis and studies, I get the distinct feeling we’ll mostly be under the same dx eventually anyway, as it’s looking very likely we’re all sick from the same genetic cause and the only real difference is a few of the symptoms and by whom or how you get diagnosed. Of course it needs more study, but the initial studies were quite compelling. I have an article about it coming out soon on the Unchargeables and how it all relates to mast cell disorders. Fascinating stuff. But seriously, if you’re suffering from a lot of fatigue and neurological symptoms, you might look into mast cell. I’m in the process of being diagnosed and already using a lot of OTC treatments and it’s helped tremendously. If any of this sounds familiar and you need more info, I’m happy to help.

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      1. Unfortunately no Mast Cell Experts is Ireland so I’d have to go to UK and that costs a fortune. But I highly suspect it. I’ve got dermatographica, plus so many symptoms. I’m just permanently itchy. I do take antihistamines. Actually they are the only drugs I actually take anymore.
        The CFS thing annoyed me. Not that it matters but I don’t need a dx of it as the fatigue explained by the EDS. Same as with the fibro dx I have. Which I made the mistake of mentioning to that neurologist. Amazing how his tone changed completely after I told him that. And he dxed the CFS without telling me!!! Just wrote it in his letter to my GP. She just laughed and ignored it. And put me on list for public neurologist. Which was two years ago….. Oh well, as long as I don’t have to see him again. Fingers crossed next guy is better. I’m getting rather sick of seeing specialists tbh.

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        1. I’m sorry. I would be pissed, too. I hate when doctors dx things and don’t even discuss it. God complex?? They do love to pile on the diagnoses. I hate seeing new doctors at all, I’ve had such rotten experiences. It’s awful you can’t get mast cell treatment there. Look into quercetin. It’s an over the counter supplement that works better at mediating mast cells than cromolyn in most parts of the body. It’s not well known, but my bet is you can have it shipped if you can’t find it at a local health food store or chemist. I’ve only been taking it a couple of months. Huge difference! Here are some of my thoughts and research on it, in case you want to know more. https://zebrapit.com/2018/06/27/quercetin-and-mcads/

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