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How Are Corticosteroid Injections Used in Sports Medicine?

Corticosteroid injections can be used for treating many sports-related injuries, but this treatment does not address pain directly. Rather, the goal is to calm inflammation – which is the body’s natural response to injury – in a localized area, such as a joint or the space surrounding a tendon. A physician can precisely deliver a local anesthetic combined with a powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly into an injury site.

A corticosteroid injection can potentially improve symptoms – almost immediately – because once inflammation is reduced, pain relief usually follows. While the result will be temporary, it can be long-lasting. Depending on the condition being treated and other factors, a single injection may remain effective for several months or longer.

What conditions can be treated with corticosteroid injections?

In addition to inflammatory arthritis, corticosteroid treatments can be a beneficial component of treatment for many sports-related injuries, including:

  • Ligament sprains
  • Muscle strains
  • Tendonitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Bursitis

Are corticosteroid injections a substitute for physical therapy?

In order to achieve long-term relief, most patients are advised to participate in physical therapy in addition to – or instead of – receiving corticosteroid injections. An injection can potentially improve symptoms, but unlike physical therapy, it cannot address the underlying issue. Specific exercises can be performed to stretch or strengthen the muscles that are contributing to the breakdown of tissue in or around the joint. More importantly, physical therapy can possibly decrease or eliminate the need for corticosteroid injections, which are not recommended for long-term use due to the associated side effects, such as joint degeneration and weight gain.

If you’ve sustained a sports-related injury, the optimal treatment approach will depend on several factors, including the nature of the injury as well as your overall health, activity level and recovery goals. The best way to ensure that you receive the safest, most effective treatment for your injury is to consult with an expert, such as a sports medicine specialist at Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas. Contact us to schedule an appointment today. We can evaluate your injury and recommend an appropriate treatment plan, which may include physical therapy, corticosteroid injections and other options.