Reducing Inflammation: What To Know About Steroid Injections

If your doctor has suggested steroid injections, knowing what to expect will help you be ready. This type of medication is useful for those suffering from various inflammatory disorders and osteoarthritis. Find out more below.

What Is a Steroid?

This type of steroid is not the same as those used by weightlifters to gain bulk; those are anabolic steroids. Your body already has natural steroids that help reduce inflammation. Artificial steroids add an additional dose to help with pain, stiffness, and swelling. Steroid injections won't cure anything, but they can make it easier to live with a condition.

What Is the Process?

Steroids are injected directly into the affected area, in most cases. That might be a muscle or a joint. In some cases, the injection is performed using additional imaging to pinpoint the location precisely. The healthcare practitioner will clean the area first. Lidocaine, a numbing agent, is applied to lessen the sting of the injection. The injection takes only seconds once the skin is numb. The process is very quick. Most patients are surprised at how easy and fast the procedure can be.

What to Expect

After the injection, your doctor will explain what to do if you encounter any side effects. These effects are rare but include a rise in blood pressure, bruising at the injection site, and a temporary elevation of blood sugar. It's also important to know that you cannot be given a steroid injection if you have an infection in the same area as the injection site.

You may be asked to remain at the doctor's office for a bit while your vital signs are monitored. You may need to bring a driver with you, depending on the level of anesthesia used. Injections in the back and spine, for example, may require general anesthesia.

You may experience instant relief in some cases. Short-acting steroid injections may be effective immediately, but they wear off quicker. Long-acting injections may provide relief in about a week but last longer.  Ask your doctor what to expect.

What Is the Prognosis?

Steroid injections are not always meant to be a long-term solution to arthritis and other medical conditions. In most cases, they provide temporary relief while you and your doctor work on obtaining longer-acting medications and solutions. Your doctor will tell you how often it's safe to get additional injections.

After the injection, plan to rest at home and relax for a few days. To learn more about steroid supplement injections, speak to a medical practitioner.