Steroid injections are commonly used to relieve osteoarthritis pain. However, past research has suggested they could speed up the need for a total knee replacement. This has understandably led to some specialists seeking alternative treatment options for patients.
Now, new research has revealed steroid injections do not hasten the need for a knee replacement. Below, we will look at what the latest study found and what it means for patients.
Study into steroid injections and knee replacements
The new study was carried out by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine. The goal was to identify whether corticosteroid injections used to treat knee osteoarthritis, sped up the need for a knee replacement. In previous research, it was stated that the injections tripled the risk of a total knee replacement. The trouble is this was based on patients with more advanced knee osteoarthritis.
The new study compared corticosteroid injections to hyaluronic acid injections. Two large cohort studies were used, with one group receiving corticosteroid injections and the other receiving hyaluronic acid injections. Rates of total knee replacement and radiographic progression or joint damage on X-ray’s were reviewed. In total, the study included 792 knees. The majority (647) received corticosteroid injections, while the others received hyaluronic acid injections.
It was discovered that total knee replacements were more prevalent in the group who had received hyaluronic acid injections. Both groups had similar rates of X-ray progression. This showed patients who do receive corticosteroid injections are not at a higher risk of requiring a total knee replacement.
What is knee osteoarthritis?
Knee osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear type of arthritis. The disease worsens over time and is most common in patients aged 50 and over. It typically results in bone rubbing on bone, which can cause a lot of pain and stiffness within the joint.
As the disease progresses, patients may find it increasingly difficult to carry out daily tasks. That is when a total knee replacement is often required. Initially, the condition can be treated with physiotherapy and medications. Corticosteroid injections are also a common treatment option, despite the controversy that has surrounded them due to past research.
Are steroid injections a safe option?
The latest research does suggest steroid injections are safe to use to treat knee osteoarthritis. The previous studies which linked the injections to an increased risk had focused on patients with the most advanced knee osteoarthritis. This could mean that they were due to need a knee replacement soon anyway. The latest research in contrast, assessed patients who weren’t in the advanced stages of the condition.
Corticosteroid injections can prove invaluable for relieving pain associated with knee Osteoarthritis. The results of the latest research will be welcome news to patients who may worry about the risks. Having the injections won’t speed up your need for a knee replacement, but they will make the pain more manageable.
For more advice on both non-surgical and surgical treatment options for knee osteoarthritis, call 08450 60 44 99 to arrange a consultation with Mr Jonathan Webb at his Bristol Clinic or 0203 195 2443 to book an appointment at Fortius Clinic in London.