Have you ever had a steroid injection? Did it work? A high percentage of our geriatric patients have had one or more steroid injections at some point over their lifetimes. Some patients showed positive results, while others showed no improvement or negative side effects. In this week’s blog we will describe what steroid injections are, identify risks, and explain if there is a better route that can be taken.

What Are Steroid Injections?

Steroid injections are a medical procedure that involves injecting a corticosteroid directly into a specific area of the body to help reduce inflammation and provide relief from pain and swelling. 

Typically, these injections are inserted into areas of inflammation around joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Common conditions treated by steroid injections include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, tendinitis, bursitis, back pain, skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus or inflammatory bowel disease. 

Steroid Injection Side Effects

Just like any drug or medication, steroid injections can come with costly side effects. Possible side effects of steroid injections depend on the injection site. Side effects of injections into the joints, muscles or spine can include:

  • pain and discomfort for a few days 
  • temporary bruising or a collection of blood under the skin
  • flushing of the face for a few hours
  • changes to your vision such as blurred vision – speak to your specialist if this happens.
  • an infection, causing redness, swelling and pain – get medical advice as soon as possible if you have these symptoms.
  • a loss of fat where the injection was given – this can cause dimples in the skin and may be permanent.
  • paler skin around the site of the injection – this may be permanent.
  • Side effects of injections given into the blood tend to be similar to side effects of steroid tablets, such as increased appetite, mood changes and difficulty sleeping.
  • If you have diabetes, your blood sugar level may be elevated for a few days.
  • If you have high blood pressure, your blood pressure may increase for a few days.

How Effective Are Steroid Injections?

Research shows that steroid injections are one of the most effective treatments for pain, but only pain. When looking at the research, it also states that steroid injections typically don’t resolve the problem. 

Just like anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids, there is no guarantee that the injections will work. When patients ask our opinion about steroid injections and their effectiveness, we give them three different possible answers.

  1. You may get better.
  2. You may feel no change.
  3. You may feel worse.

Even if an injection relieves the pain, the chance that the pain will return when the injection wears is likely. Injections aren’t necessarily the best course of action because it doesn’t fix the problem. Another downside is that injections shouldn’t be performed more than four times a year because they will begin to breakdown and destroy cartilage.

Chiropractic does something that steroid injections can’t. Not only can it manage pain, but it can cure the problem as well. Conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, and spinal pain are all successfully treated with chiropractic care. There is no cure for arthritis but with regular maintenance chiropractic care, patients can live a pain-free life and forget they ever had arthritis.

Corticosteroid injections are used for disc pain and neuropathy cases too. At our office we specialize in non-surgical decompression and neuropathy management. These two unique services will prevent the need for future injections and can completely resolve pain. 

If you or someone you know are having steroid injections done every few months because they either wear off or they don’t work, and you want to find a better solution, please reach out to us. We can help give you your life back. 

For more information or questions about steroid injections or the services we provide, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and checkout our website at for more content.

Yours In Health,

Larry E. Wilkins, DC