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What are possible side effects of injectable corticosteroids?

Dr. Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

Possible side effects of injectable corticosteroids include tenderness, burning, or tingling at injection site. There is also a risk of joint infections or cartilage damage. When injected into joints, tendon sheaths, or bursae, undesirable systemic side effects of oral use seldom occur.

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Corticosteroid injections can cause redness, inflammation of the membrane around the joint (synovitis), and discomfort at the injection site. Inflammation sometimes flares up after the injection, but usually lasts just a few hours or 1 to 2 days. Infection or bone damage can occur in the joint after the injection, but this is very rare. Bleeding in the joint can occur in people taking blood thinners, but this is also rare. Corticosteroid injections can weaken tendons, especially when many injections are given over time. This makes it more likely that the tendons will eventually tear.

When a corticosteroid is injected into a joint, the drug mainly affects the joint. But a small amount of the drug may affect other parts of the body. This could lead to side effects similar to those that affect people who take corticosteroids by mouth or muscle injection. These include digestive problems, headaches, higher risk of infections, bone loss or fractures, and muscle loss. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.