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Little Benefit of Steroid Injection for Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Corticosteroid injection (CSI) is used by many physicians in the treatment of rotator cuff tendinitis. The goal is to relieve shoulder pain and improve function. But does it really work?

According to this systematic review of nine other studies, the answer is no. Although CSI may help some patients, the evidence doesn't support its use for most people. By reviewing and comparing the results of nine other studies, the authors present the best available evidence on the use of CSI.

Studies reviewed included random controlled trials (RCTs), a measure of the highest level of evidence. In RCTs, some patients get the treatment and others do not. Injections were made into the subacromial joint. All patients had rotator cuff disease. Results are compared using the same methods of testing and measuring.

Overall, there was no difference in pain, motion, or function after CSI. Patients who did experience improvement were no better off than those who didn't when retested three months later.

The authors suggest further study is needed including measuring the accuracy of injections. X-rays or ultrasound could be used to show exactly where the injection goes and to compare the results based on placement of CSI.


Michael C. Koester, MD, ATC, et al. The Efficacy of Subacromial Corticosteroid Injection in the Treatment of Rotator Cuff Disease: A Systematic Review. In Journal of American Orthopaedic Surgeons. January 2007. Vol. 15. No. 1. Pp. 3-11.

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*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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