DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have osteoarthritis in my spine. About a month ago, I got a steroid shot in my lower back because my doctor said it might help with stiffness and pain in my back and legs. It worked wonderfully, and my symptoms are gone now. How does this medicine work? If the pain comes back, could another one of these shots take care of it again? Or is my arthritis gone?
ANSWER: The injection you received likely contained a corticosteroid medication. These powerful drugs can be very useful in treating many conditions that cause joint pain, including osteoarthritis.
How long the effects of a corticosteroid injection last can vary quite a bit, depending on your health and the severity of your symptoms. If your pain returns, you may be able to get another injection. Because of the possibility of serious side effects, though, the number of injections and how often you can receive them is limited. Unfortunately your arthritis is not gone, even if you are not currently having any symptoms.