How Steroid Injections Can Help Arthritis
Posted: Apr 09, 2014
While most people who are familiar with them refer to these injections as steroid injections, an orthopedic surgeon will call these synthetic drugs corticosteroid injections. These drugs are similar to the hormone, cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands naturally. In the body, cortisol helps to maintain proper metabolism of glucose, regulate blood pressure, releases insulin to maintain blood sugar levels, maintain proper immune function and inflammatory response.
Steroid injections are not to be confused with the steroids that you hear about athletes abusing, as those are compounds that are related to the male hormones. The cortisol steroids work by reducing the immune system performance, as well as decreasing inflammation. Orthopedic surgeons and other physicians use steroids to treat a wide variety of conditions and diseases that cause inflammation.
Which Conditions to Steroid Injections Treat?
Steroid injections are normally used to treat conditions in which there is inflammation that is causing pain or discomfort. For example, patients who have gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or other diseases which are inflammatory, could benefit from steroid injections.
How Will My Doctor Give Me Steroid Injections?
There are several types of steroid drugs which vary in how long they remain in the human body, as well as how effortlessly they dissolve. There are two methods that steroids are administered to a patient. One method is systemically, which means that they are administered through the body ("system"). The other method of steroid injection is locally, normally injected directly into the precise location on the body where the patient is experiencing the inflammation and discomfort or pain.
Systemic Steroids – These steroids can be administered either intravenously (by IV) into a vein, intramuscularly (muscle), or orally (by mouth).
Local Steroids – These steroids are administered as ear drops, eye drops, or creams for the skin. They can also be administered with an injection that is inserted directly into the joint, around tendons and other soft tissues, or into the bursa.
When an orthopedic surgeon or other physician injects steroids into a local area that is exhibiting inflammation, the doctor can tell immediately if they are administering the right amount of steroid to decrease the inflammation. If you administered systemic steroids, there is no way for the physician to be able to tell immediately if you are getting a sufficient amount of steroids to reach the area and manage the inflammation.
Do I Need Steroid Injections?
Your doctor or orthopedic surgeon will decide whether or not you may need steroid injections, although if you think they would help with your condition, you can certainly mention them to your doctor. Your doctor will take into consideration how old you are, how much physical activity you are doing, and also make sure that you are not taking any medications that will counteract the steroids or cause side effects. Your orthopedic surgeon or doctor will also explain to you the benefits and the potential risks that you could be dealing with if they elect that these injections are the right treatment for you.
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