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When to Consider Steroid Injections for Your Joint Pain

Steroid, Injections, Joint Pain, chronic, pain

If you have aching joints, you know how they can take a toll on your everyday life. Even simple things like climbing stairs, stooping down, or just plain walking can be uncomfortable. With some types of joint pain, you might even be uncomfortable sitting or resting. Joints are subjected to lots of stress every day, and that strain increases with age and with strenuous activity. And that means if you have joint pain, you need medical intervention in order to reduce or relieve your symptoms. Delay care and your joints could wind up becoming permanently damaged.

Today, there are lots of options for relieving painful joint symptoms. While some severe types of joint problems may require surgery, many kinds of joint pain can be relieved with conservative, non-surgical approaches, including injections of anti-inflammatory steroids at or near the joint.

How steroids work to relieve joint pain

Steroids used in joint pain treatment are actually called corticosteroids, and they’re a synthetic medicine developed to mimic a naturally produced substance called cortisol. Your adrenal glands produce cortisol in response to stress. Corticosteroids are not the same as the steroids used by some athletes to bulk up muscle tissue.

When injected into a joint, steroids stimulate your immune system to jump into action, releasing chemicals that help promote healing in the area. Steroids relieve both pain and inflammation inside a joint. While some inflammation is a natural part of healing, when left unchecked, excess inflammation can actually damage your joint and interfere with normal joint movement. Steroid injections help reduce inflammation to minimize damage and discomfort.

Inflammation and joint pain

Because they act on inflammation, steroid joint injections are widely used to treat problems that involve excessive inflammation in or near a joint, like:

Steroid injections can also be used to decrease back pain caused by conditions like:

Spine injections are made into the space around the spinal column, called the epidural space. X-rays typically are used to guide the needle and to ensure the injections are properly placed.

Steroid joint injections are most effective when used for pain that’s localized to a specific joint. For people with diffuse pain involving joints and other structures, joint injections may not be the best option. When injections are part of your therapy, they’re often combined with other treatments like physical therapy and exercise. Sometimes they’re used in conjunction with oral pain relievers as well. Injections often contain an anesthetic to provide immediate pain relief before the corticosteroids “kick in.”

Not always the best option

While steroid injections can be very effective in relieving joint pain due to inflammation, they’re not an ideal option for all patients. In general, steroid injections shouldn’t be used in patients who:

Before any joint injections are administered, your doctor will thoroughly evaluate your symptoms and your joint to make sure steroids are the best option. Joint evaluations typically include both a hands-on assessment of the joint and diagnostic imaging like X-rays or MRIs to look for signs of inflammation and joint damage.

Are steroid injections right for you?

Steroid injections can be an ideal solution for many patients suffering from chronic joint pain, reducing or even eliminating symptoms so patients can get back to pain-free living. At New Hampshire Regenerative Center, our medical team uses an array of treatment techniques to tailor a care plan that's ideally suited to each patient's symptoms, health history, and treatment objectives. To learn more about joint injections and other options that can help you start feeling better, contact the practice and schedule your evaluation today.

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