January 21, 2018

Can steroid injections harm your body?

What’s the difference between anabolic steroids and corticosteroids? What does a cortisone injection actually do?  Will cortisone injections harm my body?

When people hear the word “steroid”, most of us think of the sports enhancement use to gain muscle. However, there is a difference between anabolic, or muscle building steroids, and corticosteroids. Cortisol is produced naturally in the adrenal cortex of the human body. This hormone is produced at higher levels when your body is under significant levels of stress. Cortisol travels through the body’s bloodstream and helps reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, natural cortisol has a short-term effect.  An anabolic steroid is a man-made substance. These steroids can be used by doctors to treat delayed puberty in young males or muscle loss in patients due to disease. However, anabolic steroids are commonly used by athletes and body builders to help enhance their performance and promote unnatural muscle growth.

A cortisone injection is a common treatment for patients suffering from pain due to significant amounts of inflammation. Cortisone is synthetically made to mimic your bodies naturally produced hormone cortisol. Cortisone injections are injected directly to the injured area. Without being administered into the bloodstream, this allows a longer period of pain relief for the patient. Remember, cortisone injections are used for inflammation not pain.  Therefore, it may take a few days for the relief of pain, as the inflammation is subsiding.

By consulting with a doctor, they will be able to inform you about the correct dosages and frequency of injections.  Overtime, cortisone injections can start to weaken tendon matrix and cartilage within a joint; therefore, a general rule for cortisone injections is not to exceed more than one every six weeks.  Most guidelines limit three to four injections per joint within a calendar year.

L. Bolen

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