published Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Ask A Doctor: I have been getting injections for arthritis in my back. I am in a lot of pain, but ...

By Dr. John "Rett" Blake

Q: I have been getting injections for arthritis in my back. I am in a lot of pain, but now I am afraid of the injections because of the contaminated shots people received. How can we know the medicine is safe?

A: The meningitis outbreak late last year was a rare and tragic event. Lumbar epidural steroid injections have been safely performed for many years. They have a proven track record and an extremely low complication rate. The source of the contaminated steroid has been identified and removed from hospitals and doctors' offices. At this point, the risk of contracting meningitis from this source is extremely low. Your doctor can give you information about a proposed procedure, including the source of any medication used. I would also recommend asking your doctor about his or her level of training and board certifications related to performing spinal injections. Spinal injections, performed by properly trained physicians, are still very safe and effective treatments for different types of acute and chronic pain.

— Dr. John "Rett" Blake, Specialists in Pain Management; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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