The steroid injections used to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis are very different to the anabolic steroids used by bodybuilders. The steroid solution used to treat arthritis could be hydrocortisone, triamcinolone or methylprednisolone, and they act like natural steroids that your body produces to reduce inflammation.
While your doctor may prescribe steroid treatment in tablet form, the most effective way to treat an arthritic joint is to use steroid injections directly into the affected area.
Steroid joint injections are very safe and effective and have been used for many years to help treat people with inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Those suffering from osteoarthritis can also experience great pain relief from having steroid injections as they help to reduce inflammation, and therefore pain.
Steroid injections for rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a very common health condition it is the UK’s second most common form of arthritis. Symptoms can include inflammation and pain in the affected joint. Once diagnosed, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in rheumatoid arthritis, such as Dr Naveen Bhadauria who is a Consultant Rheumatologist.
Depending on your symptoms you may be given an ultrasound scan to precisely locate the area of inflammation, making it easier to administer the steroid to the right spot to give maximum benefit.
After thorough diagnostic testing, your doctor will choose the type of steroid solution that will be most effective at treating your symptoms. For fast relief from the pain, your doctor may use short-acting soluble steroids. This type of steroid solution will dissolve fast and start to work right away.
The injection is placed into the affected joint and you should start to feel a good level of pain relief within hours. In most patients, the pain-relieving effects with short-acting steroids will last for around a week.
Other types of steroid injections
Depending on the type of your arthritis and the severity of your symptoms, your doctor will give you the most effective type of steroid injection. Many of these steroid treatments can take about a week to become effective but will last much longer than a short-acting steroid.
These are less soluble types of steroid solution and can take longer to get into your system, but the pain-relieving effects can last for two or more months.
Steroid injections are considered safe to be administered to people of any age and have proven successful in treating teenagers and children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Areas that can be treated
There are different areas of the affected joint that can be injected, and this depends on the location of the pain and inflammation. Injection sites can include:
- Directly into the inflamed joint – this is known as an intra-articular injection
- Into a muscle close to the joint – which is called an intramuscular injection
- Into the soft tissue close to the joint – known as a peri-articular injection
If you have never had a steroid joint injection before, it can be reassuring to know that the procedure is very easy and quick to perform and will be carried out by a trained and highly experienced doctor or healthcare professional.