What is a Steroid Injection?
Steroid injections into one or two local areas of inflammation allows doctors to deliver a high dose of medication directly to the problem area. When doctors give steroids by mouth or intravenously, they cannot be sure an adequate amount of the steroid will eventually reach the problem area.
What conditions are treated with steroid injections?
Steroids are often injected directly into joints to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or other inflammatory diseases. Steroids can also be injected into inflamed bursae (bursitis), or around inflamed tendons (tendinitis) near the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, hand or wrist.
What role do steroid injections play in an overall treatment program?
Steroid injections can be added to a treatment program that may already include analgesics (pain medications), anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or supportive devices such as canes and braces. Whether one or more of these treatment methods are used depends on the nature of the problem. For example, in an otherwise healthy individual, tendinitis may be adequately treated with only a local steroid injection. However, in a patient with rheumatoid arthritis, injections are generally a small part of a multi-faceted treatment approach.
What Conditions Do Steroid Injections Treat?
Steroid injections treat problems such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Back pain
- Inflamed bursae (bursitis)
- Inflamed tendons near your shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, hand, or wrist (tendinitis)
Your doctor will consider your age, your level of physical activity, and other medications you’re taking when deciding whether to give you steroids.
How Long Do Steroid Injections Last?
Pain relief from a steroid shot is different for each person. It usually starts to work within 24 to 48 hours. The effect can last several weeks or more.
Steroid Injection Side Effects
Rarely, they can have side effects such as:
- Allergic reactions
- Ruptured tendon
- Changes in skin color
- Mood changes
If you get too many injections in the same area, they can weaken your bone, ligaments, and tendons.
Not everyone will have side effects. You’re less likely to have them if you wait more than 3 or 4 months between injections.
What Are the Benefits of Steroid Injections?
Local steroid injections are less likely to cause serious side effects than other forms of steroid medications.
Steroid injections often ease inflammation in a joint so it can work better. They may keep you from needing to use oral steroids or higher doses of oral steroids, which could have stronger side effects.