How Corticosteroids Help with Inflammation and Pain

At Pinehurst Surgical, Dr. Moore sees patients with joint pain every day. While his expertise and training as a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon make a difference for his patients when they need knee or hip replacement, surgery is typically only pursued after conservative treatments have been exhausted. One of these treatments is the injection of corticosteroids. Often this is the next step when the patient has not responded to other treatments such as physical therapy or oral anti-inflammatory medications.

Here’s some more information about corticosteroids.

What are corticosteroids?

Although often confused with the steroids we hear about from professional athletes or bodybuilders, corticosteroids are different. The steroids for bulking up are anabolic steroids, not corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are synthetic drugs that closely resemble cortisol, a hormone produced by the body. Triamcinolone, cortisone, prednisone, and methylprednisolone are all examples of corticosteroids.

What do corticosteroids do?

For our patients at Pinehurst Surgical, we typically use corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation. They can also be used to reduce the activity of the immune system, which can cause inflammation as the body is working against its own tissues, such as in rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Moore uses corticosteroids to provide relief from pain and stiffness. For instance, we inject them directly into joints and into inflamed bursa. We also inject them around tendons that have been strained due to repetitive movements, such as in patients with tennis elbow.

Why are corticosteroids injected?

Taking steroids orally can produce numerous side effects — everything from high blood pressure to insomnia to muscle weakness. Plus, corticosteroids taken by mouth or through an IV aren’t assured of reaching the problem area. Injections, on the other hand, guarantee the inflamed joint or area is directly targeted.

How are these injections used in treatment?

For our patients who are otherwise healthy, but maybe have joint pain from early osteoarthritis, we may use only corticosteroids for treatment. This may be sufficient to calm the inflammation and end the pain.

In other patients with more involved conditions, we may use corticosteroid injections as part of an overall treatment regimen that includes physical therapy, possible occupational therapy, supportive devices such as braces, and possible other anti-inflammatory pain medications. This, obviously, depends on the unique situation of the patient.

If you have joint pain, call us at Pinehurst Surgical Orthopaedic & Joint Replacement Center, (910) 295-0224, and let’s see how we can help.

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