Steroid injections, also known as corticosteroid injections, are primarily offered for pain relief or to reduce inflammation in joints and body tissues. Cortisone is used as a powerful anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and eliminate the constant cycle of pain and swelling in joints. Patients can often start up a supervised exercise program after completing treatment.
How Do Steroid Injections Work?
Corticosteroids are man made versions of the hormones produced by the human body. These hormones, including testosterone and human growth hormone, are produced by the adrenal glands above kidneys.
Steroids work to reduce inflammation in the area they are injected. The effect causes pain relief and reduces stiffness. Steroids can also be injected into the bloodstream to reduce inflammation across the whole body, but this also has the effect of compromising the immune system.
This effect does mean that steroids can be used in the treatment of autoimmune conditions where the immune system attacks the body by mistake. What many would consider a downside can actually become a positive in the right circumstances.
Steroid injections are different from the anabolic steroids that athletes take to increase performance and muscle mass. Those are an entirely different family of steroids, with their own side effects responses.
The Side Effects of Steroid Injections
The potential side effects of steroid injections can depend on where the injection is given. The general side effects include the following;
- Discomfort and pain – this side effect lasts for a few days and can be eased with paracetamol
- Temporary bruising caused by steroids making it easier for skin to bruise
- Flushed face caused by increased blood flow
- Infections that cause pain and swelling – be sure to talk to a medical professional if your steroids make you ill
- Fat loss at the point of injection – steroids can sometimes cause dimples that don’t go away
- Pale skin around the injection point that can be permanent
- Increased blood sugar that can be dangerous for diabetics
- Increased blood pressure
The side effects of have steroids injected into your veins are similar to the side effects of taking steroid tablets. These side effects including sleeping problems, mood changes, and increased appetite. Please note that most, if not all, of these side effects go away on their own. Talk to your doctor if your side effects persist or worsen.
How Much do Steroid Injections Cost?
The cost of steroid injections can depend on the kind of steroid being used, where it is being injected, and the clinic administering the treatment. A good average for private steroid injections in the UK is around £100-£120. Some clinics charge £90 while others charge up to £150, depending on what you need.
The price increases drastically for ultrasound-guided injections. An ultrasound can be used for injections where the needle has to go deep or reach a specific spot. The cost of an ultrasound steroid injection can reach as high as £500, if not more. Discuss the price with your private physician and consider your options.