Corticosteroids are medications that have potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects. When you are injected with corticosteroids, they can help reduce inflammation in your body and suppress your immune system’s response. They are synthetic versions of the hormones produced naturally by your adrenal glands.
Corticosteroids are commonly used to treat various conditions, including inflammatory diseases like arthritis, asthma, skin disorders, and autoimmune conditions. They can be taken orally, applied topically, or administered through injections, depending on your specific situation.
It is important to note that corticosteroids may have potential side effects when used for a prolonged period or at high doses.
Howdo corticosteroids work?
When you receive corticosteroid injections, they are administered directly into a specific area of your body, such as a joint, tendon, or muscle. The injection delivers concentrated doses of corticosteroids, which have potent anti-inflammatory effects.
Once the corticosteroids are injected, they work by suppressing the local immune response and reducing inflammation in the targeted area. This can help alleviate pain, swelling, and stiffness. The corticosteroids act by inhibiting the production of inflammatory chemicals and reducing the migration of immune cells to the affected site.
The effects of corticosteroid injections vary depending on the individual and the condition being treated. Some patients may experience immediate relief, while others have a delayed response. It is important to note that the effects are typically temporary and multiple injections may be required for optimal results.
Benefits of corticosteroids
Avoidance of systemic side effects
Adjunct to rehabilitation
Potential delay of surgical intervention
What conditions can corticosteroids treat?
Corticosteroid injections can be used to treat the following conditions:
Joint inflammation: joint inflammation, such as arthritis, can be treated with corticosteroid injections that help to provide almost instant relief from inflammation and pain.
Tendinitis: tendinitis, such as shoulder tendinitis, can be treated with corticosteroid injections that help to provide almost instant relief from inflammation and pain.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: a condition that affects your wrists and hands, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs through a narrow passageway in your wrist called the carpal tunnel. Corticosteroid injections are effective in treating mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome.
Plantar fasciitis: one of the most common types of heel pain, plantar fasciitis involves the inflammation of the tissue that runs from the heel to the base of your toes. Corticosteroid injections can be used to reduce pain and inflammation related to plantar fasciitis.
Trigger finger:trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that can cause one or more of your fingers to become stuck in a bent or straight position. Corticosteroid injections are effective in 50-70% of individuals with trigger finger.
What results can I expect?
When you receive a corticosteroid injection, the results can vary depending on your individual condition and response to the treatment.
Here are some potential outcomes you may experience:
Reduced pain: significant relief from pain in the targeted area, allowing you to experience decreased discomfort, and improved quality of life.
Decreased inflammation: helps to reduce inflammation, leading to a reduction in swelling, redness, and tenderness in the treated area.
Improved mobility: this may enhance joint mobility and increase your ability to perform daily activities or engage in physical therapy exercises.
Temporary relief: the effects of corticosteroid injections are typically temporary, and the duration of pain relief can vary.
Results will vary from person to person, depending on the treatment area, severity of the issue, and your overall health. Your orthopaedist can give you a better idea of what to expect based on your individual needs and circumstances.
How many treatment sessions are needed?
The number of treatment sessions required for corticosteroid injections vary depending on the nature and severity of your condition, your response to the injections, and your orthopaedist’s recommendation. In some cases, a single corticosteroid injection may be sufficient to provide the desired relief and resolve the symptoms.
However, in other situations, multiple injections may be necessary to achieve optimal results. These additional injections are typically spaced out over a specific period, allowing time for evaluation and monitoring of your response to the treatment.
Your orthopaedist will be able to provide you with a bespoke treatment plan, tailored to your needs and requirements.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.