Even in a small joint, osteoarthritis can have a big impact on your life if it means you can’t hold a pencil, knit, or engage in other activities that you enjoy or need to do. Having a stiff or sore knee can really impact your quality of life, making it hard to get around. Getting a shot of corticosteroids directly into a sore joint can reduce pain and inflammation quickly and effectively.
Corticosteroids are related to hormones naturally made in your adrenal glands. Corticosteroid injections are often referred to as steroid shots or injections.
Corticosteroid shots relieve inflammation faster and more directly than traditional anti-inflammatory medications taken by mouth. And a single injection doesn’t cause side effects such as stomach upset, which often go along with those drugs. Corticosteroids can also be taken by mouth or intravenously to relieve inflammation throughout the body, but when injected into a joint, their effects -- good and bad -- are mostly limited to that joint.
People feel almost immediate relief after an injection because the corticosteroid is usually mixed with a local anesthetic. Several hours later, the corticosteroid begins to relieve inflammation. The relief usually lasts from several weeks to several months.
Injecting a large joint, such as the hip or in the spine, is more complicated and usually requires imaging to help the doctor guide the needle into the joint.