What is the role of steroid injections in the treatment of osteoarthritic knee pain?

Updated: Jun 10, 2020
  • Author: Carlos J Lozada, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

In patients with osteoarthritic knee pain, steroid injections generally result in clinically and statistically significant pain reduction as soon as 1 week after injection. The effect may last, on average, anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks per injection, but the benefit is unlikely to continue beyond that time frame. [85]

However, in a randomized trial by McAlindon et al comprising 140 patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis with synovitis, intra-articular injections of steroid (40 mg triamcinolone, every 12 weeks for 2 years) resulted in significantly greater cartilage volume loss and no significant difference in knee pain, compared with placebo injections of saline. The authors concluded that their findings do not support the use of intra-articular steroid injections for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. [86, 87]


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