Can Steroid Injections Increase Arthritis?

Can Steroid Injections Increase Arthritis? post thumbnail


Recently some prestigious journals have indicated that injections of corticosteroids (commonly known as steroid injections) into joints may actually speed up the development of arthritis in that joint.  Such treatment is very common for athletes and for older people.  A study in the journal Radiology (Oct 15, 2019) was even entitled “Intra-articular (meaning into the joint) Corticosteroid Injections in the Hip and Knee: Perhaps Not as Safe as We Thought?”

The article stated that such injections may actually speed up the progression of osteoarthritis in the long run, by causing destruction of destruction of cartilage and even bone.


How do Corticosteroids Create Damage?

It starts with the cells that create healthy cartilage: chondrocytes.  They are the cells that repair and regenerate damaged tissue.

The issue here is that corticosteroids are toxic to cartilage.  These drugs have a negative impact on cartilage production.  Cartilage tends to thin after the injections. (Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, June, 2019)


What is a Person to do?

Despite the above, many people report relief from corticosteroid injections.  What folks should be aware of is that these shots should be viewed that they are a stopgap measure and not repeated frequently.  Discuss this with your doctor if you’re considering these injections.

Yours for better health,

Jon Mills, DC