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Corticosteroids generally are not used for osteoarthritis. However, the direct injection of corticosteroids into an inflamed joint can markedly reduce the swelling of soft tissues and relieve pain.

  • Unfortunately, corticosteroids can cause adverse side effects (such as joint degradation) when injected indiscriminately over long periods of time directly into a joint. Therefore, they should be used only to treat occasional bouts of joint pain and swelling in osteoarthritis, particularly in younger people.
  • A single injection may be sufficient to relieve osteoarthritis for several months. The effect lasts for different amounts of time in different people.
  • They don't work for everyone.

Review Date: 12/24/2012

Reviewed By: Ariel D. Teitel, MD, MBA, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, NYU Langone Medical Center. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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