Steroid injections: Five of the lesser known benefits

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Corticosteroid injections have been widely used in musculoskeletal (MSK) medicine and rheumatology since the 1940s. They are used to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases and conditions in the body.

Although pain relief is the primary purpose and benefit of a steroid injection, there are a whole host of other ways patients can benefit from this treatment method.

Our MSK specialists here at Vita Health Group have shared just five of the lesser known ways steroid injections could help you:

1/ Steroid injections help patients to start and progress with rehabilitation

Steroid injections are often part of a multifaceted treatment approach. Where appropriate, physiotherapists use steroid injections in combination with physical therapy which can lead to improved outcomes during rehabilitation. By easing pain, injections can help patients to better engage with physiotherapy and return to the activities they value and enjoy.

 

2/ Steroid injections directly target the problem area

Steroid injections enable practitioners to deliver an effective dosage of anti-inflammatory medicine directly to the problem area in the body. When injected, steroids can reduce swelling, which helps to relieve pain and stiffness.

 

3/ Steroid injections reduce the need for oral pain relief

Although some people do continue taking pain medications after they’ve had a steroid injection, others are able to stop taking oral medications altogether. Side effects of steroid injections are generally low intensity and well-tolerated, in comparison to the more serious side effects that patients can experience from taking oral medication.

 

4/ Steroid injections can improve sleep

Pain can be both a cause and consequence of sleep deficiency – between 67% and 88% of individuals with chronic pain experience sleep disruption and insomnia, and at least 50% of people with insomnia report chronic pain. By reducing pain, steroid injections can improve sleep which, in turn, can help patient wellbeing and recovery.

 

5/ Treatment is quick to administer

Steroid injections are low-risk, quick to administer and easy to perform. Injections usually take 10-seconds or less to administer, and the whole appointment is usually a maximum of 30-minutes. After the injection, most patients are able to continue with low level activity.

 

What conditions are treated with steroid injections?

Steroid injections can be used for people who suffer with joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout or frozen shoulder. They can also be used to treat inflammation of soft tissues, such as:

  • Bursitis, prepatellar bursitis, olecranon bursitis
  • Shoulder rotator cuff disorders
  • Neuromas (small abnormal growths of nerve tissue, usually benign)
  • Nerve compression – e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Foot problems – e.g., plantar fasciitis.

 

Who should avoid steroid injections?

Generally speaking, steroid injections are completely safe. However, there are a number of circumstances when steroid injections should not be used. These include (but are not limited to):

  • When there is an infection on your skin or anywhere else in your body
  • If you are allergic to the steroid medication
  • If you feel unwell
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • If you are under 18 years old
  • If you do not want the injection
  • If you do not understand why you are having the injection.

 

Precaution should also be taken:

  • If you are awaiting surgery
  • If you are diabetic
  • If you are taking blood thinners
  • If you have kidney problems.

 

Your practitioner will discuss these factors with you when deciding whether it is safe for you to have the injection.

They will also go through an extensive medical history with you before your treatment. It’s important you are honest and report your health history to the best of your knowledge.

 

Is a steroid injection painful?

As with all types of injections, it’s common for patients to feel brief and typically minor pain. Everyone has a different tolerance to pain – some patients may report pain from the injection whilst others go through the treatment with very little or no pain at all.

 

Are there any disadvantages of steroid injections?

Although rare, patients can experience side effects from a steroid injection. Side effects include (but are not limited to):

  • Infection or allergic reaction – 1 in 10,000 people
  • Prolonged pain
  • Skin discoloration
  • Local bleeding
  • Rupture of a tendon.

 

Is a steroid injection right for you?

It’s important you consult a medical professional and only receive steroid injections from a qualified clinician.

If you’re suffering with pain but are unsure whether a steroid injection is right for you, our team of musculoskeletal experts are here to help.

Click here if you’d like to know more about steroid injections or call us on 020 8778 9050 so we can discuss your suitability for treatment.

 

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