(KUTV)- If you suffer from chronic back or joint pain, your healthcare provider might suggest steroid injections. This is where a concentrated dose of medication is injected at the site of the pain or area of inflammation.
“Steroid injections – or corticosteroid injections – can help with pain by reducing swelling,” said Dr. Chris Gordon, Intermountain Utah Valley Sports Medicine.
Dr. Gordon said steroid injections typically last for three to six weeks. “Moderation is important. Too many injections or injections done too frequently can cause harm by degenerating tendons and cartilage.”
“Additional research is still required to help us better understand how much is too much. More recent studies demonstrate knee injections every three months caused greater cartilage volume loss and no significant difference of knee pain compared with saline injections.”
Steroid injections are common treatment for people who experience knee pain. Dr. Gordon explained that genetics, use and abuse of the knee, and other factors contribute to cartilage destruction. “Unfortunately, our cartilage wasn’t designed to last forever,” said Dr. Gordon. “Steroid injections can alleviate pain, but they could possibly speed up the need for potential knee replacements.”
Dr. Gordon said other options include viscosupplementation (Euflexxa, Synvisc), PRP (platelet rich plasma injections), and stem cell injections.
“Unfortunately, while the data is growing, it is still not strong enough for many insurance plans to cover these alternate procedures and the cost can be a barrier. Yet, these options are potentially low risk, given the fact they use a patient’s own blood products,” Dr. Gordon said.
If you have chronic knee or other joint pain, Dr. Gordon suggests you see a sports medicine or orthopedic physician. “They can help assess your options and give you suggestions for treatment.” You can find a caregiver near you by visiting intermountainhealthcare.org and clicking “Find a Doctor.”