Think Twice! Steroids proven to harm cartilage without improving pain.

We have long known that steroid (cortisone) injections, frequently sought by patients in an attempt to relieve the pain of arthritic joints, can lead to joint degeneration. One issue is the numbing medication that is injected along with the steroid—a common anesthetic, lidocaine, has been shown to harm cartilage and steroid injections using alternate numbing agents are now thought to be safer.

A new study from late 2017, however, proves that steroids alone, when injected every 3 months for 2 years, cause significantly more cartilage loss and arthritis progression than a saline injection control. Additionally, there was not a significant difference in pain levels between the steroid and the salt water injection groups—in short, the steroid made the arthritis worse and the pain no better!

The conclusion of the study is that steroid injections should not be recommended to patients with arthritis. Luckily, we have alternate options, including the PRP, A2M, and cellular options discussed above, which have been proven to help pain and function without increasing, and potentially even slowing, the progression of arthritis.