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Local doctor says steroid injections good for knee pain when used intermittently

Local doctors say steroid injections good for knee pain when used intermittently (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - There is surprising new information on steroid injections and knee pain.

A new study shows the injections may not work as well as previously thought, but it's important to go beyond the headline.


“My sophomore year, I blew out my first ACL, and then my junior year I blew out the other ACL,” said Sandi Kitchen.

For years, when arthritis set in after college sports injuries, Sandi Kitchen was able to manage the pain with the help of cortisone injections.

“I think it was about ten years,” said Sandi.

Dr. Bruce Holladay, a specialist at OrthoCincy, is Sandi's orthopedic surgeon. He says the pain-relieving steroid injections helped Sandi put off the two knee replacements she has now.

He reviewed a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association where researchers compared cortisone injections to saline or salt water injections in patients with arthritis.

They found patients given the cortisone lost more cartilage and didn't report better pain control, than those given the saline. That study was over a two-year period.

Dr. Holladay said that's not the way the injections are typically used, however.

“We really use it intermittently, and we use it for a gap when a patient has very severe pain or stiffness or disabled, to try to get them to the next stage,” said Dr. Holladay.

Drew, a college football player, needed one of those injections on Tuesday. He says if you look at images of his cartilage and compare those to how it looks today, there's quite a contrast.

So what's important to note, Dr. Holladay says, is that this is what makes Drew a good candidate for these injections is something very important to consider in this new research.

“Cortisone is not a harmful drug if used properly and intermittently,” said Dr. Holladay.

It's certainly was part of a good protocol for Sandi.

Thanks to long-term planning, she says she was able to get a leg up on good health.

If you have been on steroid injections that don't seem to be working, ask your doctor about a referral to a sports medicine specialist.

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