STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Steroid injections may lead to more long-term harm than previously thought, new study says

Doctors and patients should beware if they're hoping to use steroid injections to relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis.The shots may be doi...

Posted: Oct 18, 2019 3:40 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2019 3:48 AM

Doctors and patients should beware if they're hoping to use steroid injections to relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

The shots may be doing more harm than good.

In a new study published in the journal Radiology, researchers looked at 459 patients in a US hospital who had received one to three corticosteroid injections into a knee or hip.

Of those patients, 36 of them, or 8%, experienced adverse events in their joints, as shown on medical imaging tests.

Researchers saw acceleration of the patients' osteoarthritis progression, as well as other negative effects including subchondral insufficiency fracture, osteonecrosis and rapid joint destruction with bone loss.

Ali Guermazi, a radiology professor at Boston University and a co-author of the study, told CNN the paper built on another 2019 study that showed similar results.

The evidence is stacking up, and the negative effects might have actually extended higher than the 8% of patients with complications seen in the study so far, he said.

He cautioned, however, that it was just an observational study, and scientists would still need to do a double-blind study to back up these findings.

The results offer food for thought as patients are reckoning with ailing joints.

Steroid injections are common in helping with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the bones wears down over time, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Doctors often give the steroid injections to help with short-term pain relief, particularly for patients who can't tolerate acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In the short term, side effects are rare.

Richard Kijowski, a professor of radiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, wrote an editorial accompanying the recent study saying the objective of the journal's special report was "to educate radiologists that the intra-articular corticosteroid injection they routinely perform with little, if any, thought about long-term safety may cause more harm than benefit."

He noted a 2015 Cochrane Review analysis found that the beneficial effect from the steroid injections didn't last more than six months.

Patients should be careful when considering steroid treatment

With 10% of men and 13% of women older than 60 being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the findings have implications for those with the most common joint disorder in the United States.

An important takeaway, Guermazi said, is that doctors should inform patients of all the possible risks of steroid injections as they weigh treatment options together.

Currently the American College of Rheumatology "conditionally recommends" steroid treatments and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International says they should be considered in patients with moderate to severe pain, the paper says.

Guermazi wasn't ready to commit to how exactly the steroid treatments might actually cause osteoarthritis complications.

But he said the study's observational evidence might be particularly relevant to younger patients mulling over steroid treatments, as it might lead to them needing joint replacements sooner.

All in all, it still comes down to the patient's choice.

The researchers say "patient preference should have a substantial influence on the type of treatment selected."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 11851

Reported Deaths: 232
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah282472
Marion183153
Washington181520
Umatilla9877
Clackamas95527
Union3692
Lincoln3615
Malheur3021
Lane2943
Deschutes2520
Yamhill1949
Jackson1780
Linn17410
Polk17312
Jefferson1630
Morrow1381
Klamath1351
Wasco1161
Benton1126
Hood River1040
Douglas600
Josephine571
Clatsop550
Coos540
Columbia480
Lake240
Crook181
Tillamook160
Wallowa140
Baker110
Curry90
Sherman40
Harney20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 318761

Reported Deaths: 7027
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1303943795
Riverside24765537
Orange23901421
San Diego19371422
San Bernardino18912304
Fresno790687
Imperial7827135
Alameda7725148
Kern633997
San Joaquin627968
Santa Clara5983166
Tulare5678152
Sacramento533981
Stanislaus463351
Contra Costa460589
San Francisco442650
Ventura424653
San Mateo3949112
Santa Barbara393131
Marin343430
Kings289839
Monterey254018
Solano207528
Merced188412
Sonoma165014
Placer105511
San Luis Obispo9054
Madera8938
Yolo83928
Santa Cruz5683
Napa4774
Sutter3724
Butte3384
San Benito3362
El Dorado3070
Lassen2750
Shasta1876
Yuba1803
Humboldt1654
Glenn1640
Nevada1631
Colusa1130
Mendocino1130
Lake1081
Tehama1041
Calaveras670
Tuolumne640
Del Norte600
Mono501
Siskiyou410
Amador400
Inyo341
Mariposa311
Plumas170
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 83°
Brookings
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 72°
Crater Lake
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 80°
Grants Pass
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 82°
Klamath Falls
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 80°
Sunny & seasonal Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events