If you suffer from the pain and stiffness of hip arthritis, a steroid shot may seem like a miracle. After all, anything that can give you complete relief from that pain (even if just for a short time) is amazing. However, a new study has found that these injections can cause a domino effect that results in even more serious hip problems. And that can happen very quickly.
Before turning to steroids that can damage bones, let’s give this a second thought. Especially since there are some proven safe and effective treatments for hip pain that won’t prove to be bone damaging!
Dr. Connie Chang, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, examined patients X-rays after hip steroid injection. She kept finding “rapidly” developing changes, namely bone “death and collapse” occurring several months after such injections.
Dr. Chang arranged a study of close to 250 patients with hip arthritis, some of whom received a steroid shot in their hip and some who didn’t. And as soon as three months later, she was finding “new” occurrences of bone death, eventually affecting up to a quarter of the volunteers who had been given a shot.
Along with that, around 17 percent of those who got a steroid shot suffered from bone collapse in the “head” of their femur bone.
Dr. Chang said that joint and bone changes in those with arthritis usually develop “slowly over time.” That’s been my clinical experience over the years. This is why I talk about your age and current pain levels before getting a cortisone shot. If you are young there is a lot of risk. If you are old but plan on living a long time, let’s talk about this.
The fact is that steroids can cause damage to your bones.
The Mayo Clinic warns that steroids are the most “common cause” of “avascular necrosis” (which is basically the death of bone tissue caused by a lack of blood supply, eventually leading to collapse of the bone) that isn’t caused by bone trauma.
The University of Michigan Medical School and the VA Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, found that you don’t have to be taking steroids for a long time to suffer some serious side effects.
Even a low dose, such as 20 mg a day or less, can trigger sepsis… triple your risk of a blood clot… and double the chance of breaking a bone.
While steroids can be lifesavers, say, during a bad asthma attack, the truth is that, given the risks they come along with, they’re given out way too haphazardly.
Before you resort to a shot in the hip, why not first give these alternative treatments a try?
• Laser: This treatment uses light therapy and has been proven to reduce inflammation and decrease pain in numerous conditions, including arthritis.
• Shockwave therapy: This has been a remarkable therapy for my patients. It penetrates deep into the tissues to increase circulation and stimulate the breakup of scar tissue and other pain producing substances.
• Exercises: Having a skilled doctor that can guide you through stretches and exercises can help keep your hips moving smoother.
• Natural anti-inflammatories: Taking a daily supplement of omega fatty acids that contain DHA and EPA made by Metagenics (offered to our patients) is well known to reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation.
“Steroid injections for arthritic hips: More trouble than they’re worth?” Robert Preidt, November 29, 2017, U.S. News & World Report, usnews.com