• By Deborah Balzer

Mayo Clinic Minute: Benefits and risks of corticosteroid shots

November 6, 2019

Corticosteroid injections are used to relieve pain in joints due to arthritis and overuse injuries. A recent study suggests that frequent steroid use may affect cartilage health. Dr. Raul Rosario-Concepcion, a Mayo Clinic sports medicine specialist, explains the benefits and risks of these injections.

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Joint pain can be debilitating. When it affects quality of life, a corticosteroid may be prescribed. 

"Corticosteroids are basically a strong anti-inflammatory medication," says Dr. Rosario Concepcion.

They can decrease inflammation in joints and tendons, and help those with severe pain.

"Patients that have developed osteoarthritis or degeneration of the joint may have some benefits after the use of corticosteroids," says Dr. Rosario Concepcion.

Multiple injections in the same joint may lead to cartilage issues around the bone. 

"For that reason, we may want to limit the amount of corticosteroid injection we do in a single joint in order to avoid these complications," says Dr. Rosario Concepcion.

Injections may offer short-term pain relief, but should be used together with a good rehabilitation program for longer results.

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