Do steroid shots help or hurt knee/hip/back pain?

Cortisone steroid shots in the knee, shoulder, ankle, or back are a common treatment to manage swelling and reduce pain. In the doses commonly used (milligrams), these drugs are very powerful anti-inflammatories.

However, these doses may be too powerful, as research shows the array of cortisone steroid shots side effects are many and negative.

These include

  1. Disrupts blood sugar in diabetics. For example, a recent study looked at what happened to patients after a steroid epidural (for low back pain and sciatica) and an intra-articular (inside the joint) injection of steroids. In diabetic patients, there were significant increases in blood sugar that lasted for about a week.
  2. Damages the cortisol control system in the body. Most concerning, were changes in the body’s own cortisol system that lasted for more than 3 weeks when patients received these steroid shots epidural. This cortisol suppression caused by steroid epidural shots throws off the body’s ability to manage infections, control blood sugar, and regulate other important body functions involved in the metabolism of processing foods.
  3. Kills off cartilage and stem cells. Is there other evidence showing that steroid shots may be a problem? Repeated joint injections of steroids have been associated with greater cartilage breakdown in animal models. In our closest animal relative (primates), repeated steroid shots have been shown to cause ligament failure and breakdown. Even at much lower doses than those commonly used by doctors to inject into joint (about 100 times less), certain steroids still kill cartilage cells. In particular, a steroid suspension containing the preservative benzalkonium chloride was very toxic toward cartilage cells, with the preservative being the main offender. Even without the preservative, steroids have still been shown to kill cartilage cells (called chondrocytes). Even steroids given orally to help swelling can lead to cartilage degeneration. In particular, steroids combined with local anesthetic (the most common way steroid is injected into joints), makes the steroid even more toxic to cartilage cells. How do steroids impact your stem cells? The same. In this study, steroids reduced the ability of bone stem cells to make new bone. This fits with other studies that show why some patients on oral steroids can develop avascular necrosis of the bone (death of bone maintaining stem cells).

Is there a better way? Yes! Instead, our experience mesenchymal stem cells work to correct the cause of the pain and inflammation rather than remove the inflammation and damage internal joint cells and tissue.

Call 678-888-5181 to schedule an appointment to see if one of our Regenerative Cell Therapies will help you.

Published by Dr. Jase

Thanks for visiting. More about me...I wanted to be a doctor as long as I can remember. My passion is and always will be to help people solve their health problems and inspire them to be better versions of themselves. I completed my undergrad at Michigan State University where I studied Physiology. It was there I shadowed in a local hospital, talked to scientists, counselors, medical doctors and chiropractors. After much consideration I attended Life University in Atlanta, GA. Prior to attending Life U I had never been to a chiropractor. All I knew is they help peoples' spines. Shortly after attending I received my first adjustments. Previously, it was ingrained in my head that pain was normal and to ignore it. As part of the process at Life U you are assigned a student intern that is learning to adjust people. Little did I know their learning experience on my spine would be my miracle. At 26, I've had constant shoulder pain since my days on the high school football team. I was 100 percent convinced I'd have to live with it forever. After being under care for a few weeks things started to change and shortly thereafter my pain was gone. Besides the knowledge in joint pain and spinal adjustments I became well-versed in other aspects of holistic care like diet, exercise, and other chronic disease processes that can be reversed via lifestyle. I love to teach and like to be creative so starting a blog, youtube channel and instagram profile check all my boxes for what makes me happy as a person. Other accolades: I became the go to chiropractor in the Atlanta area for athletes and families. The Atlanta Blaze MLL (professional lacrosse) team brought me on to be their team chiropractor. 2015 Nationally Qualifed NPC Men's Physique Competitor I also did some modeling and even acted in a few commercials for fun.