Shot or Not? Spinal Injections and Chiropractic Care


1You probably know someone whose medical doctor has recommended a spinal injection for their pain. Maybe they should think twice before scheduling that shot. Did you know that recent research says that treatments like spinal injections can dramatically increase your risk of a cracked or broken back?

New research has shown a 21% increased risk of a spinal fracture after every epidural steroid injection, and they don’t provide as much relief as chiropractic care.

The scary part?

Over 9 million of these injections are given every year for spinal pain! 

Spinal fractures hurt. They require further medical treatment and sometimes result in surgery. By staying conservative with your healthcare you can reduce your risks and get the relief you desire. Research shows spinal adjustments as one of the best forms of care to reduce your pain, increase your function, and improve your overall quality of life.


No pain ≠ No problem

Most of our patients who come to Carney Chiropractic Center complain of some type of pain. Some have been to pain management centers and some have not. Pain is your body's way of signaling to you that something needs your attention. Think of it as your body saying ‘Pay Attention Inside Now.’ When a problem occurs in our body, due to ergonomic stress, spinal misalignment, or degenerative changes, our body uses pain as a signal for us to pay attention and take action.

But, when the pain goes away, isn’t the problem corrected?

You may be surprised but the answer is ‘no.’ Just because your pain goes away doesn’t mean the problem has been corrected. Pain is like a bad party guest– it’s the last to show up and the first to leave.

Chiropractic adjustments work to provide pain relief while also correcting the underlying problem.

You or someone you know may have visited a medical doctor in the past with neck or back pain. Perhaps, an injection was recommended. What happened next? For many people their pain returns in a matter of days or weeks. Why? It is because the cause of the pain wasn’t corrected. Injections only mask the pain temporarily while leaving the root of the problem untreated.


3Correcting the source of pain

How can you correct the underlying problem that’s causing your pain?

If you’re receiving chiropractic adjustments as part of your care, then you already know the answer. Chiropractors are focused on doing just that: treating the underlying cause of the pain rather than simply treating the pain itself.

Misalignments of the spine can put pressure on your discs and nerves causing irritation, swelling, and a lack of spinal motion. A shot does not correct the cause of the pain. At best it temporarily masks it. With the risks of spinal fractures, the smartest decision is to get well and stay well using more conservative, natural healthcare method. In other words, you’re smart for continuing your chiropractic adjustments.

Chiropractic care has been shown to address the mechanical and neural aspects of the underlying cause of the pain.

The latest research shows that people who receive chiropractic care have a 60% decrease in pain, while only 50% of patients receiving injections report relief. That means injections only grant pain relief 1 in 2 times, and chiropractic is far less invasive! Anecdotally, we’ve found that the percentage of those who experience long-term relief is even higher when patients stick to their treatment recommendations and continue on with wellness care. When our patients receive regular adjustments 1-2 times per month, they report low levels of pain overall and, if they do injure themselves, they recover much quicker than a patient new to chiropractic care.

Congratulations… you’re on the pathway to receiving excellent pain relief while also correcting its cause–all with a chiropractic adjustment.


4The truth about spinal injections

The bottom line is that spinal injections not only increase the risk of spine fractures by up to 21%, but research has also proven that they are less effective at providing actual pain relief than a chiropractic adjustment.

Further, injections don’t treat the underlying cause of pain, so in essence it’s the equivalent of kicking the can down the road. There is a really good chance that the pain will return.

Research shows if you do decide to get an injection, you should also receive ongoing chiropractic care.

A recent study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed that patients who received chiropractic care after an injection had much more relief than those who only received the injection.

If you or someone you know is persuaded into receiving these injections, you can still benefit from chiropractic care. Science says a combined approach of ongoing chiropractic adjustments will result in a greater outcome than an injection alone. It’s time to change the numbers with regard to pain.

In summary, research has shown that spinal injections alone can lead to increased pain, ongoing physical ailments, and additional costs to continue treating pain instead of the cause of the pain. At Carney Chiropractic Center, we’re here to help get to the underlying issues of all kinds of pain. Got questions? Ask us. Call us today to schedule a consult!



  1. Spinal Manipulation Postepidural Injection for Lumbar and Cervical Radiculopathy: A Retrospective Case Series. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. September 2004. Volume 27. Number 7
  2. Symptomatic MRI-Confirmed Lumbar Disk Herniation Patients: A Comparative Effectiveness Prospective Observational Study of 2 Age- and Sex-Matched Cohorts Treated with Either High-Velocity, Low Amplitude Spinal Manipulative Therapy or Imaging-Guided Lumbar Nerve Root Injections. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 2013 May; 36(4):218-25
  3. A Retrospective Analysis of Vertebral Body Fractures Following Epidural Steroid Injections. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Volume 95, Issue 11 (2013, Jun 05;95(11):961-964)