- A new study finds that corticosteroid shots may accelerate arthritis in knee and hip joints, even as it removes the pain.
- Osteoarthritis affects more than 30 million adults in the United States.
- Corticosteroid shots are widely used to reduce inflammation and lessen pain in knee and hip joints.
Osteoarthritis affects more than 30 million adults in the United States. It causes chronic joint pain, stiffness, and swelling that can make it difficult for people to get around and take part in everyday activities.
In cases when lifestyle changes and oral medications aren’t enough, doctors often prescribe corticosteroid injections to treat painful knees or hips.
But according to a new report published in the journal Radiology, corticosteroid injections may be more damaging for the joint than previously thought.
When the authors reviewed the outcomes of patients who received corticosteroid shots to the knee or hip at their clinic in 2018, they found that 36 out of 459 of those patients were later diagnosed with new or worsened joint problems.
The authors also cited evidence from past studies that have found risks associated with corticosteroid shots.
Corticosteroid injections can be beneficial, but they can also be harmful, as this report highlights,” Chen, who wasn’t involved in the new study, added.
The authors of the new report identified several potential complications that may be associated with corticosteroid injections. These complications may eventually cause joints to collapse, which requires joint replacement surgery to treat.
After receiving corticosteroid injections, some patients at the authors’ clinic developed rapidly progressive osteoarthritis. This happens when a arthritis-affected joint deteriorates more quickly than usual.
Some patients who’d been treated with corticosteroid shots were later diagnosed with a type of stress fracture known as a subchondral insufficiency fracture. Some were diagnosed with complications from osteonecrosis, which happens when bone tissue dies.
It’s possible that these joint issues might have started to develop before the patients received corticosteroid shots. For example, some patients might have had an undiagnosed subchondral insufficiency fracture before they received the shot.
But it’s also possible that corticosteroid injections might have contributed to the development of these issues. If that’s the case, the potential risks of corticosteroid injections may be greater than some people realize.
Corticosteroid injections aren’t the first-line treatment for osteoarthritis.
When people are first diagnosed with osteoarthritis, their doctors often encourage them to make lifestyle changes to help manage their symptoms.
For example, avoiding activities that cause pain, incorporating low-impact exercise into their routine, and losing excess weight may help many people with this condition limit their symptoms and improve their mobility.
These lifestyle changes are the safest treatments for arthritis. They carry not just very little risk but also side health benefits.
Doctors may also advise their patients to take oral pain relievers, including over-the-counter or prescription medication. Some of those medications pose a risk of side effects.
If lifestyle choices and oral pain relievers aren’t enough to manage their symptoms, doctors may talk to patients about the potential benefits and risks of injectable medications, including corticosteroids.
When other treatments have failed to provide lasting relief, doctors may recommend joint replacement surgery or other surgical procedures.
Precision Pain Care and Rehabilitation has two convenient locations in Richmond Hill – Queens and New Hyde Park – Long Island. Call the Richmond Hill office at (718) 215-1888, or (516) 419-4480 for Long Island office, to arrange an appointment with our Interventional Pain Management Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Chacko.