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Posted on October 15, 2019

Luxor Nursing and Rehab at Mills Pond on Whether Steroid Injections in the Knee and Hip Do More Harm Than Good

A popular treatment method to combat the joint pain and stiffness that comes with osteoarthritis – especially in knees and hips – is corticosteroid injections.

The extremely common practice (osteoarthritis affects more than 30 million adults in the United States) is used when things like lifestyle changes and oral medications like ibuprofen and naproxen aren’t enough. 

A new study, however, shows that the steroid injections may be doing more harm than good.

The procedure is usually done to treat pain and swelling that often comes with the affliction. But the study from Boston University School of Medicine found that the injections could potentially speed up the destruction of the joint, which would lead to total hip and knee replacements.

“We’ve been telling patients that even if these injections don’t relieve your pain, they’re not going to hurt you,” Dr. Ali Guermazi, who led the study, said in a press release. “But now we suspect that this is not necessarily the case.”

Out of the 459 people that Dr. Guermazi and his team studies, 36 of them were later diagnosed with new or worsened joint problems. 

Researchers believe that the injections may lead to stress fractures that, in turn, led to the rapid deterioration of the joint. But they also cautioned that many of these people may have had undiagnosed issues like this before receiving the injection. Because of this, more research is needed, but Dr. Guermazi believes that the risk for accelerated joint deterioration should be listed on patient consent forms when they receive a steroid injection. Right now, those forms only list side effects like hemorrhaging and infection.

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