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July 2019
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Archive for the ‘Corticosteroid’ Category

Corticosteroids are often injected into arthritic joint spaces to reduce symptoms

Osteoarthritis of the knee often includes severe inflammation.  This inflammation and osteoarthritis related knee pain can be treated with an injection of corticosteroids.  These injections reduce inflammation and pain, and increase healthy function.  Unfortunately, these injections only alleviate pain for a short time, and subsequent injections are decreasingly effective.  This means that corticosteroid injections may be very useful in treating acute osteoarthritis, but are less helpful for people with chronic knee pain.

Recent developments by Flexion Theraputics inc. may reduce the limitations of steroid injections.  A new product, the FX006, offers sustained release of steroids after a single intra-articular injections.  This lets the FXoo6 reduce knee pain and inflammation for patients with osteoarthritis for much longer after each treatment.  The increased effectiveness of this injection makes it a reasonable treatment option, that should be considered alongside alternative therapies.

So if you suffer from osteoarthritis and are thinking about a knee injection, ask your doctor about the FX006.  Don’t settle for a standard treatment without discussing your options.  A sustained release injection can improve your function without any additional risk.

Cortisone Injection

Has your doctor recommended a cortisone shot for your knee pain?  The human body produces cortisone naturally when under stress.  Cortisone is a steroid manufactured in the adrenal gland.  It is delivered through the blood stream and its affects can last for minutes.

The cortisone your doctor wants to give you is synthetic.  Though man-made, it closely resembles the steroid made in your body.  The big difference is that the injected version is delivered directly to where the pain is and it lasts a lot longer.  How long the pain relief lasts will vary from person to person.

Arthritis Injection

Arthritis Injection

Corticosteroids are strong drugs that can be a valuable arthritis treatment option for those patients with knee osteoarthritis.  Corticosteroids resemble a hormone called cortisol.  Cortisol helps the body deal with stresses like emotional problems, injury, surgery, or infections.

So what corticosteroid injections do is trigger the immune system to block inflammation and allergic reactions.  Short term treatments for osteoarthritis is usually prescribed at low to moderate doses over a one or two week period.  The idea is to achieve quick joint pain relief and a reduction in swelling.  Long term therapy is usually for severe rheumatoid arthritis.

However these powerful drugs can have severe side effects.  Used for short treatment, corticosteroids are relatively safe.  However long term corticosteroid side effects can include increased appetite, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, or growth of facial hair.

Cortisone Injection

Cortisone Injection

How many cortisone injections can I get?

Though there is no hard and fast rule as to how many injections a person can get, often physicians do not want to give more than three.  Cortisone is not a long-term solution for treating osteoarthritis.  It is a quick-fix to relieve pain.  There are practical limitations to the number of shots a patient can receive.

If a rash or swelling develops at the injection site, or if the effects wear off quickly, then it may not be worth revisiting this treatment option.  Also, studies on animals have shown that cortisone injections can weaken cartilage and tendons.

Use at your own risk.


More on cortisone injections for knee osteoarthritis….

Though there isn’t a hard and fast rule, it is generally agreed upon within the medical community that injections of cortisone should not be given more than three times per year.  Long-term use can lead to:

  • Cartilage weakness
  • Weakening of ligaments and tendons
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Avascular necrosis  – death of the bone

Cortisone injections are a temporary treatment and when used correctly rarely produce side effects. Though uncommon those side effects can include:

  • “Steroid Flare” increased inflammation
  • Pain
  • Skin Discoloration
  • Thinning of the skin at the injection site
  • Infection

Cortisone should not be taken by people with:

  • Infections
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Peptic Ulcers
  • Osteoporosis



Cortisone is a powerful type of synthetic medication (corticosteroid) that reduces inflammation. It resembles a naturally produced hormone within the body called cortisol, and works by slowing down the immune system.

Cortisone has been used for over 50 years to temporarily treat symptoms related to knee osteoarthritis. Though cortisone injections are used as a treatment for pain, it is not a pain reliever. When the injections reduce pain it is because the synthetic medication has decreased inflammation within the knee. Cortisone is not a cure for osteoarthritis, nor does it alter the course of the disease.

People react differently to Cortisone. Some experience pain relief for days others for months. There really isn’t a method to predict how the powerful drugs will react for any given individual. However, it is clear that if the first couple of shots have little or no effect, that repeated injections will seldom offer relief.  Also, the injections will decrease in effectiveness over time.

Hip Pain

Hip Pain

This is part of a series of blog posts about the side effects of corticosteroids.  Steroids are used as a treatment option for osteoarthritis of the knee.

High doses of steroids can cause damage to your bones called “aseptic necrosis”.  This can happen in any bone but the hips are most common.

Your hip joint is actually in your groin, so this is where the pain will occur.  Hip pain, especially if you don’t have hip arthritis can be a sign of this condition.  Report it to your doctor immediately.

Heart Healthy Diet

Corticosteroids are often prescribed for knee osteoarthritis.  This article is one in a series about the common side effects of this medication.

Steroids can increase the rate at which your arteries harden (atherosclerosis).  This could increase your risk of heart disease.  This risk is probably more likely if you are taking corticosteroids for more than twelve months or if you are taking a large dose.

Make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol are checked regularly.  Follow a heart healthy lifestyle.

Have Your Eyes Checked

Have Your Eyes Checked

Corticosteroids used to treat knee osteoarthritis can have side effects.  This post is one in a series about managing those side effects.

Using corticosteroids can cause glaucoma or cataracts.  If these conditions are present when usage begins they could get worse.

If you develop eye problems see your eye doctor immediately.  If  you have a history of cataracts or glaucoma tell your ophthalmologist because a new schedule of eye exams may be required.  Let your eye doctor decide if any symptoms are serious.

Blood Pressure Can Be Elevated

Blood Pressure Can Be Elevated

This post is part of a series about the side effects of corticosteroids when used to manage osteoarthritis of the knee.

Cortisone regulates how the body balances water, sodium, and electrolytes.  Corticosteroids can cause the body to retain water which could elevate blood pressure.  Swollen ankles are a symptom that the body is retaining fluid.

Have your blood pressure checked regularly and institute a low sodium diet.  Water pills may be prescribed by your doctor if you are retaining fluids.