Osteoarthritis is one of the most common conditions to affect aging adults. This inflammatory condition involves the breakdown of the flexible tissue at the ends of bones where they connect to others in a joint space like the knee or the knuckles. Even in small joints like those in the fingers, osteoarthritis can have a big impact on daily living. For example, if your fingers are stiff and achy from joint inflammation, you may find it difficult to hold a pen. Being a progressive condition, osteoarthritis demands a variety of treatment options. Corticosteroids have been used for many years to reduce the joint irritation that leads to pain. Here, we discuss how research suggests that corticosteroid injections have a downside.
A study published in the journal Radiology discussed the findings of research following 459 patients. Each received between one and three injections of corticosteroid medication into the affected joint. Patients had osteoarthritis in the hip or knee. According to imaging tests, 8 percent of the patients experienced an acceleration of joint degeneration after injections were administered. Adverse effects included osteonecrosis, insufficiency fracture, and rapid joint destruction with bone loss. These findings mimicked data observed in a 2019 retrospective observational study of corticosteroid injections and femoral head collapse.
Why are Corticosteroid Injections Used?
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that acts as a buffer between bones deteriorates over time. Without a strong cushion, bones wear down. This causes the surrounding ligaments and tendons to stretch, resulting in pain and stiffness. Corticosteroid injections have been used to provide temporary relief from these symptoms. The effects of an injection last longer than oral pain relievers can, and may be more powerful. Still, reviews indicate that the relief that comes from steroid injections may last no longer than six months. Furthermore, some people continue to need oral medication to control pain after undergoing injection therapy.
The concern about corticosteroid injections is that patients who get them may not have the comprehensive information they need to make the best decision for themselves. Pain relief is important, and so is the lifespan of the joint. When pain relief compromises that, its value should be questioned.
The OrthoHealing Center has been established to provide patients in the Los Angeles area with the most up-to-date treatment options available. Our team is consistently at the forefront of new therapies so that you can perform better, feel better, live better. Contact us at (310) 453-5404 to schedule a consultation.