Study: repeated steroid/cortisone injection treatments have negative effects on knee osteoarthritis and cartilage

Knee osteoarthritis affects millions of people in the United States and corticosteroid injections are one of the most common treatments as they alleviate pain through reducing inflammation of a membrane that lines the joints. A study from Tufts Medical Center randomly assigned 140 patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis to receive corticosteroid or saline (placebo) injections into the joint every 12 weeks for two years. The researchers found patients who received corticosteroid injections resulted in significantly greater cartilage volume loss than the placebo group (-0.21 mm vs -0.10 mm) in addition to no significant difference on measures of pain. While corticosteroid injections can yield temporary relief in knee pain, repeated treatments over an extended period of time may cause detrimental effects in cartilage status. To find out more, click here.

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