Local corticosteroid injections can often give rapid and effective reduction in pain and inflammation. Symptom relief from a steroid injection in many cases may be temporary. As with all medications, some people may experience side effects to steroid treatment. Below we attempt to answer some frequently asked questions and provide useful information. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.
What is a steroid injection
Some corticosteroids are occur naturally in the human body, steroid injections act like these steroids to reduce pain and inflammation. Steroids can be taken as tablets or given as an injection. An injected steroid uses a much smaller dose to target a precise area of pain.
Steroids are often used by people with inflammatory conditions and musculoskeletal pain. They can also be used in degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis and other soft tissue conditions which involve pain and/or inflammation.
Different steroids exist, steroids such as those used for injections take around a week to work but can last for several months after treatment.
How is the injection done
Before any injection we will perform a clinical examination and a diagnostic ultrasound scan of the effected area .Ultrasound imaging allows for correct diagnosis and accurate placement of the steroid at the painful site.The skin is cleaned with antiseptic. The steroid is then directly injeceted into the area that is inflamed, such as a joint or around the soft tissue. Shortly after, you will be examined again. Most injections are comfortable and easy to perform.
What will happen after the injection
Local anaesthetic can be used with a steroid injection and you may feel pain relief immediatley, this may wear off after a coupke of hours .The steroid usually starts to work a few days after the injection but may take a little longer for significant pain relief to occur.
If you are planning to have local anaesthetic, this may cause some localised numbness for a couple of hours and therefore maybe best to avoid driving.
After the injection you will be advised to avoid exercise for the first two days. If you have an injection around a tendon we will advise you on when to resume strenuous activity.
What are the possible side-effects
There can be some minor discomfort at the time of injection. Ultrasound guidance allows many injections to be performed in a way that is much more comfortable for patients.
There is a very rare risk of infection following an injection. Every step is taken to minimise this. If after the injection the area does becomes more painful, swollen and hot, you are advised to seek medical attention immediately, especially if you are also feeling generally unwell.
Some injections occasionally cause local thinning and lightening (depigmentation) in colour of the skin at the injection site. These changes will usually resolve after a few months and the area returns to normal.
People with type I or II diabetes may experience a temporary fluctuation in their blood sugars. It is important that you are extra vigilant of your blood sugars for around two weeks after the injection. If you feel unwell after the injection, you should speak to your doctor.
Are there any times I should not have an injection
- If you have any infection on your skin or anywhere else in your body
- Are allergic to local anaesthetic or steroid
- Feel unwell
- Are due to have surgery at the area soon
- Are pregnant
- Are under 18