I've had three steroid injections in my shoulder for a torn rotator cuff. I don't really want to have surgery. The injections work for a couple months. How many total injections can I have?
Corticosteroid injections are often used for back or joint pain and swelling from an inflammatory condition. The maximum number of steroid injections that can be given safely is a debatable topic.
Some doctors advise no more than two to three to the same joint in one year. The concern is for systemic side effects of the steroids. Steroids can also thin the skin and underlying layer of protective fat in the area of the injection.
Steroid injections have the best chances of helping patients when used early on in the condition. They are not as helpful in chronic conditions. They seem to work best when combined with pain relievers and physical therapy. The goal is to reduce pain, thereby increasing motion and function. The need for surgery can be avoided in some cases.
Warren R. Dunn, MD, MPH, et al. Variation in Orthopaedic Surgeons' Perceptions About the Indications for Rotator Cuff Surgery. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. September 2005. Vol. 87-A. No. 9. Pp. 1978-1984.
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