Steroid injections, also known as cortisone shots or corticosteroid injections, allows your doctor to treat tissue inflammation and pain near the source, without the uncertainties of an oral medication. It’s a common treatment used for arthritic conditions, as well as other inflammatory conditions that affect joint support tissue like tendons and bursae.
At 360 Orthopedics, we often include steroid injections for patient care. A powerful way to reduce tissue swelling, steroids also reduce elements of immune system activity that can lead to pain hypersensitivity. Since these are a common modality frequently included often in treatment plans, today we’ll take a closer look at steroid injections.
Unlike the male hormone steroids abused by athletes to create muscle bulk, steroids used for inflammation and pain treatments are manufactured medications that closely resemble cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in your body. Cells throughout your body have receptors for cortisol and it creates a variety of actions depending on the types of cells with which it’s interacting.
As well as influencing blood sugar levels and controlling water and salt levels in the body, cortisol suppresses inflammation. Steroid injections mimic cortisol activity, resulting in the control on which doctors rely to treat inflammation and pain.
Steroid injection targets
Joint pain is often a condition well-suited for steroid injection therapy. Inflammatory forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and gout respond well. Bursitis and tendinitis patients may also see good results regardless of the affected joint. Steroid injections are often given for problems in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, and knees.
Adding injections to your treatment plan
You may already be on pain and anti-inflammatory medication when we suggest steroid injections. There’s usually no need to stop taking these medications before adding injections. Patients usually find that, once the steroids become active, they can instead reduce the dosages of other medications they take. Though every patient is different, steroid injections can remain effective for weeks or months.
Patients undergoing physical or occupational therapy can also safely add steroid injections without compromising their existing treatments. In some cases, such as tendinitis, steroid injections alone may be the only treatment you need.
The benefits of steroid injections
The key benefit of delivering steroids via injection is the reduced risk of side effects. Taking corticosteroids orally requires a higher dose to overcome loss of activity as the medication processes through your digestive system. Increased dosages create stronger side effects.
Not all patients develop side effects, which can include allergic reactions, prolonged pain, or skin discolorations. You’re less likely to experience side effects if your injections are spaced more than three or four months apart. Temporary pain flare ups in the first 48 hours after injections are common.
Learn more about steroid injections in consultation with our team at 360 Orthopedics. With locations in Sarasota, Venice, and Lakewood Ranch, Florida we’re conveniently located to serve you. Book your visit by phone or online today.