Joint Corticosteroid Injections: How is This Still a Thing?

8 June 2015
8 June 2015, Comments: Comments Off on Joint Corticosteroid Injections: How is This Still a Thing?

Intra-articular injections with corticosteroids is a very common medical treatment for the pain caused by joint osteoarthritis. Most patients do not know that corticosteroids are not a treatment for arthritis and does not heal the joint. They work by reducing inflammation and usually provide quick relief of pain. This pain relief, however is short lived: usually lasting only for no more than 2-3 months. Repeated injections are then needed to continue the pain relief.

For some time it has been known that corticosteroids, when injected into joints can harm the cartilage in the joint. Corticosteroids have been shown to have an inhibitory effect on the synthesis of cartilage proteins and induce early death of chondrocytes, the cells that produce cartilage. Therefore, intra-articular corticosteroid injections accelerate the loss of cartilage and predispose that joint to further degeneration and arthritis.

The work of researcher Constance Chu, MD from the Cartilage Restoration Center of the University of Pittsburgh have shown that the local anesthetics usually mixed with the corticosteroids in these injections can also be harmful to cartilage and when combined with corticosteroids produce a double whammy that can harm the joint even after just one injection.

Corticosteroids also have a large number of systemic side effects, including an increase in blood sugar, weight gain, infections, and suppression of the adrenal glands. Until recently it was thought that this adrenal suppression only occurred with large dosages or after long term use of corticosteroids. However a new study has shown how just one injection into corticosteroids into the joints the adrenal glands function can be depressed.

Knowing the limitations of the benefits, the damage to the cartilage, and other potential serious side effects, why is this still a mainstream orthopedic medicine treatment? Or, as John Oliver would say on his TV program: Corticosteroid Joint Injections, how is this still a thing?

The good news is that stem cell therapy now offer a different and better alternative for the treatment of pain due to osteoarthritis. The effect is potentially long lasting and with none of the negative side effects seen with corticosteroids.

Schedule a free consultation today to learn how regenerative treatment can help you manage your joint pain.

To learn more about non-surgical alternatives to joint replacement surgeries go to: .