Are Corticosteroid Injections Beneficial for Knee Osteoarthritis?

Noticeable cartilage loss detected in patients treated with injections over 2 years, researchers find
Noticeable cartilage loss detected in patients treated with injections over 2 years, researchers find

HealthDay News — Regular use of corticosteroid injections for degenerative knee disease is ineffective and may even result in cartilage loss, according to a study published in the May 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Timothy McAlindon, DM, MPH, chief of rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues tracked 140 patients, age 45 and older, who had arthritic knees with inflammation of the synovial membrane. The patients were randomly assigned to receive injections with either intra-articular triamcinolone or saline. Injections were given every 12 weeks from 2013 to 2015. Patients also underwent magnetic resonance imaging and answered questionnaires about their pain. 

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The researchers found that at the end of the study, pain levels didn't differ significantly between the two groups. But patients in the injection group lost significantly more cartilage thickness than those in the saline group.

"These findings do not support this treatment for patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text