Dexamethasone injections are sometimes used for back pain. They help reduce inflammation, which, in turn, helps you manage your pain.

Dexamethasone is a generic prescription drug and part of the corticosteroid family of steroids that’s used to help manage a number of conditions, from autoimmune conditions to some cancers. It’s also used to treat inflammation and can be taken in various forms, including orally, as eye drops, and through injections.

Some people take dexamethasone to help manage back pain, but how effective is it, and how much does it cost? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about dexamethasone injections for back pain.

Dexamethasone can be used for back pain that’s caused by inflammation. A 1975 study of people, who were given dexamethasone to help manage pain caused by herniated disks in the lower back, indicated that the use of dexamethasone could actually avoid the need for surgery in many cases.

More recently, research published in 2022 has disputed the long-term success of using drugs, including dexamethasone and diclofenac, to treat back pain.

The 2022 study suggests that, while these medications may relieve pain and discomfort in the short term, they block healing. Prevention of healing could lead to worse chronic pain in the long term. That said, more research needs to be done.

There are a number of conditions you will want to tell a doctor or healthcare professional about before they administer dexamethasone, including the following:

You may also want to tell a doctor if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to dexamethasone or another medication, a mental health condition, tuberculosis, or if you’ve been in contact with somebody who’s recently had chickenpox, measles, or shingles.

Also, let a doctor know if you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, nursing, or if you’ve recently had any vaccinations or you’re due for vaccinations.

If you’re taking any of the following medications, you may want to let a doctor know before you start taking dexamethasone:

Dexamethasone can come with some side effects. Many are unlikely to be serious, but if you experience any of the following, you may want to tell a doctor:

Injection site-related side effects can be expected, such as pain, swelling, and redness. These usually resolve in a few days. Other rare, but possible, local side effects include infection and thinning or lightening of the skin.

Shortly after the injection, you may experience changes in appetite or mood, trouble sleeping, headache, nausea, or vomiting.

Side effects of long-term use

Chronic back pain may require long-term use of dexamethasone injections. Over time dexamethasone use may cause weight gain, acne, increased infection risk, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Additionally, bone loss, also known as “osteoporosis,” is possible.

Depending on the cause of the back pain, it’s important to consider if the bone loss will affect healing in the long run. Overall, it’s best to speak with a doctor and discuss if the benefits outweigh the immediate and long-term side effects related to dexamethasone.

How long does it take for dexamethasone to work for back pain?

It can take 10–30 minutes for dexamethasone to start working properly, but it could take a couple of days for the medication to really control your inflammation and pain.

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A dexamethasone shot can last for up to 72 hours. The dose can be repeated at intervals of between 3 and 21 days, depending on your body’s response to the drug.

Sometimes you may have to wait at least 3 months between injections. Some doctors recommend no more than 4 injections in the same area in a year timeframe.

It’s important to remember that it could be harmful to take too much dexamethasone for too long, but this is something you can discuss with a doctor.

The cost of dexamethasone injections can vary and depend on a range of factors. For example, it may depend on what healthcare coverage and treatment plan you have.

Because dexamethasone injections are almost always administered by a doctor in a hospital, the cost of the injection will also depend on how much the visit itself costs.

It’s best to speak with an insurance provider or a healthcare professional such as a doctor if you want to find out how much dexamethasone injections will cost you.

You can also check out an article on the cost of dexamethasone to learn more.

Dexamethasone injections can be used to help manage back pain caused by inflammation. If you’re finding it difficult to manage back pain, you may want to discuss the possibility of having injections with a doctor.

Together, you can work out a plan that will consider the potential side effects, the cost of the treatment, and any other medical conditions that you may have.