Facts and Myths About Steroid Injections

Suffering from joint pain can really be a drag — especially when you live a busy lifestyle. Whether the pain stems from your knees, back, or neck, one thing is for sure — you want relief as quickly as possible. Many conservative treatments help temporarily, but you want something more long term. This is where steroid injections come in handy.

At Bay Oaks Orthopedics, our skilled team is ready to help you kick your pain to the curb for good. No matter what joint is bothering you, we have a solution. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Anthony Melillo, helps you figure out not only if a steroid injection can help you, but also informs you about the facts behind this treatment.

What is a steroid injection?

When you think of steroids, your mind might dart directly to the bad kind — anabolic steroids. However, steroid injections are engineered in a lab, and are also known as corticosteroids. These are very different from the “doping” steroids that athletes sometimes use to improve their performance.

So what exactly are steroid injections? Corticosteroids are engineered to mimic a hormone in your body known as cortisol. This hormone is made by your adrenal glands, and helps to calm your immune system while also responding to illness and injury. 

Because they’re similar to your naturally occurring hormones, steroid injections help to suppress your immune system to provide anti-inflammatory relief to many conditions. Steroid injections can be used for a variety of different conditions, such as:

Steroids come in many different forms; however, an injection is the quickest and best way to experience pain relief from a variety of conditions.

Myths vs. facts

Much like any other treatment out there, you may have heard mixed reviews about steroid injections, or information that may seem sketchy. However, there are a lot of myths about this type of treatment that you need to know about. Here are some of the myths, followed by the facts, about steroid injections:

Myth: Once you start injections, you can’t stop

This is simply not true. The opposite is actually the case. Dr. Melillo actually prefers that you don’t continue to get these injections in the same spot, because of the potential adverse effects they can cause. Steroid injections are a great way to get pain relief for moderate pain due to inflammation, but they’re not a cure.

Myth: The injections are really painful

The fact is, this is only partially true. The injection does involve a needle into your skin, which sometimes causes slight discomfort; however, Dr. Melillo often uses a type of numbing medication along with the steroid. This improves discomfort, and once the steroid begins to act, you should feel pain relief.

Myth: You can’t get pregnant while receiving this treatment

The truth is corticosteroids can be used carefully while you’re pregnant. They must be used under a doctor’s care and only if needed. There are many medications that aren’t safe during pregnancy, so always ask Dr. Melillo if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. 

Myth:Your pain will get worse after you stop injections

This myth is only partially true. While you’re receiving steroid injections, your body naturally decreases the amount of cortisol produced. If you don’t properly taper steroids to let your body readjust, you could have a slight worsening in your condition until your adrenal glands catch up. For injections, there really is no taper period. The pain relief lasts for weeks to months, and the pain can come back once it wears off.

There is such a thing as too many steroid injections in one spot. If you continue to receive these injections in the same problem area for an extended period of time, it can weaken the bone, along with the ligaments and tendons.

Is an injection right for you?

Because they’re slightly invasive, steroid injections aren’t usually the first line of treatment for joint pain. Dr. Melillo usually recommends more conservative treatments first, such as:

Physical therapy is another option that could help. In fact, even when you’re ready for steroid injections, Dr. Melillo may recommend you continue physical therapy to enhance the benefits of your steroid injection.

Ultimately, the decision to get a steroid injection is up to you and the opinion of Dr. Melillo. If you’re suffering from arthritis pain in your joints, a steroid injection can definitely help you get back to your normal activities.

If you’re tired of suffering from pain, and are interested in learning more about steroid injections, call our office at 281-223-1391, or book an appointment online with Dr. Malillo using our convenient online booking tool.

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