Steroids (corticosteroids) are man-made medications that mimic cortisol, a naturally occurring hormone. Steroids work in the body by reducing inflammation and have been known to be used in the treatment of a wide range of inflammatory diseases and disorders.
Anabolic steroids, which some athletes and sportsmen use to gain and build up muscle, are not corticosteroids. Some examples of corticosteroid medicines include Triamcinolone, Cortisone, Prednisone, and Methylprednisolone.
How do steroids work?
Steroids UK work by reducing inflammation and your immune system’s activity. Inflammation is a defense mechanism used by your body’s white blood cells and chemicals to fight off infection and things like bacteria or viruses.
However, in some cases, the inflammation is caused by your body’s immune system malfunctioning. As a result of this, there could be tissue damage as inflammation is used by your body to act against its own tissues. You may notice some symptoms like redness, warmth, swelling, and discomfort.
Do steroids work?
When the organs in your body are threatened by inflammation, the use of steroids could be a life and organ saver. An instance can be seen in a case of kidney inflammation, which could potentially lead to kidney failure. Using the steroids could help prevent the kidney inflammation from becoming fatal. It might also eliminate the need for kidney dialysis or transplantation later on.
Taking a minimal dose of steroids may provide some relief from pain and stiffness in people affected by rheumatoid arthritis, while temporary higher doses of steroids can help in more severe cases.
What are steroid injections used for?
Steroid injections are injected directly into the affected area for the treatment of various inflammatory illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis and gout. They can also be injected into an inflamed bursa or around tendons near the body’s joints. This method of using steroids helps people with swollen or painful joints, as some of them experience relief from osteoarthritis.
What are the benefits of steroid injections?
Injecting the steroids directly into the area needed ensures that the area receives a high dose of the medicine. When the steroids are taken orally or by IV, there is no guarantee that an adequate dosage of the steroids will reach the problem location. Also, this method carries a significantly lower risk of adverse effects.
What are the side effects of steroid injections?
Steroid injections are indeed effective, but they may come with some side effects in rare instances, such as:
- Allergic reactions
- Bleeding into the joint
- Rupture of a tendon
- Skin discoloration
- Weakening of bone, ligaments, and tendons (from frequent, repeated injections into the same area)
It should be noted that not everyone has side effects when they use this drug, and the side effects vary from person to person. If you do not use the steroid injections frequently enough (less than every three to four months), you may not experience the side effects.
When should steroid injections not be used?
If there is infection in the target area or anywhere else in the body, steroids should not be injected since they might disturb the body’s normal infection-fighting immune response. Furthermore, joints that have already been seriously damaged should not be injected with steroids.
Also, if you are using anticoagulants or have a bleeding problem, caution should be observed when taking steroid injections as they can induce bleeding at the injection site. Additionally, it is advised that you do not use the steroid injections frequently because there is a high risk of weakening the tissues in the treated area.