About steroid injections

A steroid injection is given to help reduce inflammation and pain either in a joint or soft tissue. They may reduce swelling and allow a joint to move more easily.

The steroids used for joint injections are similar to those produced naturally by your body. A stronger type of steroid is used to have a longer lasting effect.

The steroid injection is usually combined with a local anaesthetic.

After the injection

If a local anaesthetic is used, it may take several hours before the feeling comes back into your joint or area injected.

You may feel some discomfort as the local anaesthetic wears off. At first, the pain may be worse than before the injection.

The effect of the steroid is usually seen within a few days, but there may be a gradual improvement over a few weeks.

The area injected should have one to two days of relative rest. This means normal, gentle activities can be undertaken but not strenuous exercise.

Gradually increase your activity over the first week following your injection.

The length of time the injection can ease symptoms for, will vary, but can often last for several months or longer.

Side effects

Side effects are rare but important to be aware of.

  • Post injection flare up of pain. This may last for up to 48 hours. You may need to take pain relief medication.
  • Infection is rare but if you develop the following symptoms in the first week after your injection, you should seek medical advice   swelling, redness, warmth around the injection site or feeling generally unwell
  • Injections may cause a thinning of the skin around the injection site. They may cause a change in the colour of the skin around the injection site.
  • Anaphylactic shock is an extreme but rare, allergic reaction. When it occurs, it usually happens very quickly, soon after the injection has been given.
  • Facial flushing may be present for 24 hours after the injection.
  • If you suffer from diabetes, a steroid injection may cause a moderate increase in your blood sugar levels for up to a week.

You may be asked to record the effect of the injection. We may ask you to keep a ‘pain diary’ in which you note how you were affected by the injection.

Repeat injections may be considered depending on your condition and response to the first injection. Usually, a maximum of three injections over 12 months will be given.

Ref: 09-17-123
Review: 08/19