- Rheumatoid Arthritis Slideshow Pictures
- Joint-Friendly Exercises Slideshow Pictures
- Take the RA Quiz
- Find a local Rheumatologist in your town
- What are steroids?
- How are steroids given?
- How do steroids work?
- What conditions are treated with steroids?
- What are the benefits of steroids?
- Why are steroids injected?
- What conditions (including arthritis) are treated with steroid injections?
- What are the expected benefits of steroid injections?
- What role do steroid injections play in an overall treatment program?
- When should steroid injections not be used?
- What side effects are associated with steroid injections?
- What are the possible side effects of oral steroids?
- Does everyone develop side effects to steroids?
- How can the side effects be minimized?
- Who should not take steroids?
- How do I know if steroid treatment is right for me?
Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Pictures Slideshow
What Conditions Are Treated With Steroid Injections?
Steroids often are injected directly into joints to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or other inflammatory diseases. They also can be injected into an inflamed bursa or around tendons near most joints in the body.
Some people report relief from osteoarthritis when steroids are injected directly into swollen or painful joints.
What Are the Expected Benefits of Steroid Injections?
Steroid injections into a specific area are generally well tolerated and are less likely than other forms of steroid drugs to produce serious side effects. Also, the injections may help avoid the need for oral steroids or increased doses of oral steroids, which could have greater side effects.
What Role Do Steroid Injections Play in an Overall Treatment Program?
Steroid injections can be added to a treatment program that may already include anti-inflammatory pain medications (NSAIDs), physical therapy, occupational therapy, or supportive devices such as canes and braces. Whether one or more of these treatment methods are used depends on the nature of the problem.
For example, in an otherwise healthy person, tendinitis may be adequately treated with only a steroid injection into the inflamed area. However, in a person with rheumatoid arthritis, injections are generally a small part of a multifaceted treatment approach.
When Should Steroid Injections Not Be Used?
Steroids should not be injected when there is infection in the area to be targeted or even elsewhere in the body because they could inhibit the natural infection-fighting immune response. Also, if a joint is already severely destroyed, injections are not likely to provide any benefit.
If someone has a potential bleeding problem or is taking anticoagulants (often referred to as blood thinners), steroid injections may cause bleeding at the site. For these people, injections are given with caution.
Frequent steroid injections, more often than every three or four months, are not recommended because of an increased risk of weakening tissues in the treated area.