Why Steroids Are Best Avoided

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Steroids can be administered either topically through a cream or ointment, orally or by injection. Steroids work by inhibiting the production of inflammatory chemicals, thereby reducing symptoms associated with inflammation
  • Three of the most common side effects, even from short term use, are osteoporosis (reduced bone density), cataracts and an increased risk of diabetes. However, more serious effects such as life-threatening sepsis have also been reported
  • In one 2019 study, 8% of patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knees who received one to three steroid injections ended up worse. Adverse effects were observed in 10% of those with OA in the hip and in 4% of those with OA in the knees
  • In another study, intra-articular corticosteroid injections more than doubled the cartilage volume loss compared to placebo (−0.21 millimeters versus −0.10 mm), while having no impact on knee pain at two-year follow-up
  • When using steroids for an extended period of time, abruptly stopping the drug can trigger adverse and potentially even lethal effects, depending on how long you’ve been taking the medication

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