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What are corticosteroid injections into joints for?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Injections of a corticosteroid into a joint are done mainly for people with 1 or 2 inflamed joints that are not getting better with disease-modifying treatments, such as methotrexate or biologics. The injections can reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms for a period of months. But they do not appear to have long-term effects on the disease. For people with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that affects only a few joints, steroid injections may be a good option instead of steroid pills.

The advantage of joint injections over taking corticosteroids as pills is that some of the dangerous side effects of oral corticosteroids are much less likely to occur. These include heart disease and osteoporosis, which people with RA already have a higher risk of developing. Corticosteroids should not be injected into spinal joints. 

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.