A number of studies have shown that steroid injections may be helpful in easing pain in the short term but that pain tends to come back in many people. In one study, short-term (six weeks) success rates were greater for steroid injections than for physiotherapy or a wait-and-see policy. However, in the long term (one year), success rates were greater for both physiotherapy and a wait-and-see policy than for injections. The short-term benefit may be sufficient to warrant an injection, for example, for a student about to sit important examinations.
How it works: According to Dr. Edwards, stress produces chemicals in the body that increase inflammation. “With relaxation techniques, you have stress reduction and therefore decreased inflammation and less pain,” she says. Meditation also relaxes muscles that tense up with pain. Dr. Edwards suggests meditating for 20 minutes once or twice a day. For moments of acute pain, she also recommends “meditation minutes.” For example, take four to five deep breaths, counting to 10 with each inhalation and exhalation. “Just doing that four to five times a day can decrease depression and improve outlook,” she says.