Arthritis affects over 50 million people, which is 1 in 5 people over the age of 18. If you are part of that statistic, you know that the pain from arthritis can be debilitating. However, just because you have arthritis doesn’t mean you will need a joint replacement. There are a number of non-surgical ways to deal with arthritis pain – or at least to put off a joint replacement for as long as possible. One of the primary ways you can avoid surgery is to get corticosteroid – or steroid injections.
Corticosteroids, or steroids for short, contain cortisol, a steroid hormone that mimics the cortisol that is produced naturally by the adrenal glands. This hormone regulates the body’s metabolism and the immune response. In joints, a cortisone injection reduces inflammation. This could be inflammation from arthritis or bursitis.
Steroid injections can suppress inflammation and ease pain, but it is a temporary fix for a likely chronic problem. For some people, one injection can ease joint pain for a year or longer; for others, an injection may only last for 2-3 months.
You can have a steroid injection in any joint. We see patients primarily for knee, hip, and shoulder injections, but you can also get your elbow, wrist, finger, and ankle injected to ease tension or inflammation. Some of the most common reasons people get injections are to treat osteoarthritis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow. There are a number of other overuse pains or tensions that can be relieved with injections.
Too much injected cortisone in the same area can be harmful to the tissue, so our doctors and physician assistants are careful about how much and how often patients get steroid injections. Typically, we allow you to get a steroid injection in the same spot once every three months.
If you have tried injections for a while and are not seeing long-lasting relief, your surgeon may recommend you look at other options, like surgery.
Like any shot you get at the doctor, steroid injections carry risks including infection or nerve damage. However, these events are very rare. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about any of these risks.
People usually feel immediate relief from an injection, but the initial feeling may wear off within a few hours. Don’t worry if the pain gets worse overnight. Many injections may make you feel worse before you get better.
If you are interested in having a steroid injection or have more questions about your options, call our office at 317-455-1064