Steroids

Steroids

Corticosteroids, or steroids, are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. They can be part of overall pain management. Learn if they may help you and what to expect. If you're prescribed steroids, note in your Journal how they affect pain.

Conditions: Back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain

Symptoms: stiffness, muscle pain, pain with movement, lower back pain, upper back pain, sharp pain, shocking pain, muscle spasms, electric pain, all over pain, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, shooting pain, difficulty moving neck, aching, burning, headache, pain when tilting head, pain when turning head, upper back pain, sharp pain, tenderness, base of neck pain, hand pain, side of neck pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, difficulty sitting down, difficulty standing up, difficulty walking, limp, morning stiffness, neck stiffness, reddish joint, joint tenderness, pain at night, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, knee pain, pinched nerve, symmetrical pain, neck pain, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain

Triggers:

Treatments:

Categories: meds

Duration

7

Injected Steroids

Your doctor may inject steroids directly into tight muscles, joint spaces or the epidural spaces between your vertebrae in your spine to ease symptoms. Injecting the steroid delivers the medicine right to the area of pain. Joints where shots are commonly given include the spine, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, and knee. Less commonly, shots are used in the hands and feet. You can usually get a steroid shot right in your doctor's office. Ask your doctor how soon you may feel relief after the shot.

Prompt: Injected steroids?

CTA: Learn where they are used.

Conditions: Neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain, back pain

Symptoms: stiffness, muscle pain, pain with movement, lower back pain, upper back pain, sharp pain, shocking pain, muscle spasms, electric pain, all over pain, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, shooting pain, difficulty moving neck, aching, burning, headache, pain when tilting head, pain when turning head, upper back pain, sharp pain, tenderness, base of neck pain, face pain, hand pain, side of neck pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, difficulty sitting down, morning stiffness, neck stiffness, reddish joint, joint tenderness, pain at night, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, knee pain, pinched nerve

Triggers: exercising, heavy lifting, lying down, pushing or pulling, repetitive motions, twisting, overdoing it, sitting too long, standing too long

Treatments: betamethasone, Celestone, methylprednisolone, Depo-Medrol, triamcinolone, Kenelog

Categories: meds

Post-Steroid Shot

After a steroid shot, you may put ice on the injection site to ease pain if you need to. Sometimes your doctor will advise that you take NSAIDS for a few days to prevent a reaction to the steroid in your joint. Or, you may be getting the steroid injection because you should not take NSAIDS — ask your doctor.

Watch for signs of infection or side effects that need your doctor's attention:

* Increasing pain

* Redness and swelling that lasts more than 2 days

* Rash

Prompt: Shot recovery.

CTA: What to do at home.

Conditions: Neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain, back pain

Symptoms: stiffness, muscle pain, pain with movement, lower back pain, upper back pain, sharp pain, shocking pain, muscle spasms, electric pain, all over pain, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, shooting pain, difficulty moving neck, aching, burning, headache, pain when tilting head, pain when turning head, upper back pain, sharp pain, tenderness, base of neck pain, face pain, hand pain, side of neck pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, difficulty sitting down, morning stiffness, neck stiffness, reddish joint, joint tenderness, pain at night, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, knee pain, pinched nerve

Triggers: exercising, heavy lifting, lying down, pushing or pulling, repetitive motions, twisting, overdoing it, sitting too long, standing too long

Treatments: betamethasone, Celestone, methylprednisolone, Depo-Medrol, triamcinolone, Kenelog

Categories: meds

Injection Limits

The length of time the shot reduces pain depends on the person, the site of the injection, and diagnosis. For example, inflammatory arthritis seems to respond better than osteoarthritis. Pain could last for a week or months.

Doctors sometimes recommend having no more than 3 steroid injections in a joint per year -- that's about one every 3 or 4 months. Having too many injections may weaken the tissue in the treated area. If you need more relief from pain, share your Pain Control Report with your doctor at your next appointment and ask about other pain relief options.

Prompt: Shot data.

CTA: How long is relief? How often is shot?

Conditions: Back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain

Symptoms: stiffness, muscle pain, pain with movement, lower back pain, upper back pain, sharp pain, shocking pain, muscle spasms, electric pain, all over pain, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, shooting pain, difficulty moving neck, aching, burning, headache, pain when tilting head, pain when turning head, upper back pain, sharp pain, tenderness, base of neck pain, face pain, hand pain, shoulder blade pain, side of neck pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, difficulty sitting down, difficulty standing up, difficulty walking, limp, morning stiffness, neck stiffness, reddish joint, joint tenderness, pain at night, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, knee pain, pinched nerve

Triggers:

Treatments: betamethasone, Celestone, methylprednisolone, Depo-Medrol, triamcinolone, Kenelog

Categories: meds

Oral Steroids

Your doctor may prescribe steroid pills, such as prednisone, prednisolone, or methylprednisolone. Your doctor may prescribe pills instead of giving you steroid injections if you have multiple joints or other locations with pain, but this is generally done in emergencies or as a last resort for long-term use; pills deliver the steroid into the bloodstream, so their anti-inflammatory effect is widespread. Oral steroids can also be used as a temporary bridge to a better pain management strategy.

If you take oral steroids, note your progress and side effects in your Journal and compare to your tracked pain.

Prompt: Oral steroids?

CTA: Learn about use and side effects.

Conditions: Neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain, back pain

Symptoms: stiffness, muscle pain, pain with movement, lower back pain, upper back pain, sharp pain, shocking pain, muscle spasms, electric pain, all over pain, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, shooting pain, difficulty moving neck, aching, burning, headache, pain when tilting head, pain when turning head, upper back pain, sharp pain, tenderness, base of neck pain, hand pain, side of neck pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, morning stiffness, neck stiffness, reddish joint, joint tenderness, pain at night, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, knee pain, pinched nerve

Triggers: exercising, heavy lifting, lying down, pushing or pulling, repetitive motions, twisting, overdoing it, sitting too long, standing too long

Treatments: prednisone, prednisolone, Medrol, methylprednisolone, Orasone

Categories: meds

Steroid Cautions

Because of their potential for causing serious side effects, the goal of pain treatment is to get a patient off steroids. Their long-term use is risky in everyone.

Even short-term use can be risky in patients with the following conditions:

* An infection

* Uncontrolled diabetes

* Peptic ulcer

* Uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart disease

* Glaucoma

* Osteoporosis

Prompt: Are they for you?

CTA: Steroids aren't for everyone.

Conditions: Neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain, back pain

Symptoms: stiffness, muscle pain, pain with movement, lower back pain, upper back pain, sharp pain, shocking pain, muscle spasms, electric pain, all over pain, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, shooting pain, difficulty moving neck, aching, burning, headache, pain when tilting head, pain when turning head, upper back pain, sharp pain, tenderness, base of neck pain, face pain, hand pain, side of neck pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, difficulty sitting down, morning stiffness, neck stiffness, reddish joint, joint tenderness, pain at night, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, knee pain, pinched nerve

Triggers: exercising, heavy lifting, lying down, pushing or pulling, repetitive motions, twisting, overdoing it, sitting too long, standing too long

Treatments: betamethasone, Celestone, methylprednisolone, Depo-Medrol, triamcinolone, Kenelog

Categories: meds

Steroids for RA

When you have RA, steroids can quickly ease pain, stiffness, and joint swelling and tenderness. Your doctor is most likely to prescribe steroids for immediate pain relief if you are having a severe flare-up, when you are starting long-term DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), or when the doctor is adjusting your DMARD dose. Using steroids can help preserve your function while some of the other meds you take work to prevent joint damage. Browse Med Goals to learn more about them.

Prompt: Steroids for RA.

CTA: Help preserve functionality.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: stiffness, pain with movement, lower back pain, upper back pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, hand pain, shoulder blade pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, reddish joint, joint tenderness, pain at night, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, knee pain

Triggers: exercising, heavy lifting, lying down, pushing or pulling, repetitive motions, twisting, overdoing it, sitting too long, standing too long

Treatments: prednisone, triamcinolone, Kenalog, prednisolone, Medrol, methylprednisolone

Categories: meds

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on May 25, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Ruddy, S., Harris, E., Sledge, C., Kelley, W., eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 2005.

National Centers for Health Statistics, Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans 2006, Special Feature: "Pain."

Simon S. Results of clinical trials presented to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, February 2010, San Antonio.

Starz, T. "Duration of narcotic usage by patients with low back pain." American College of Rheumatology 2004 meeting; San Antonio; Oct. 16-21, 2004; presentation 1863.

University of Maryland Medical Center: "Low Back Pain."

Hospital for Special Surgery: "How to Reduce Corticosteroid Side Effects."

University of Washington, Seattle: "Hip and Knee Questions and Answers."

Cedars-Sinai Health System: "Joint Injections/Aspiration."

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: "Rheumatoid Arthritis Medicines: A Guide for Adults."

UpToDate: "Patient Information: Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment."

The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: "Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment."

AGS Foundation for Health in Aging: "Arthritis Pain."

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