Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ


I've heard that steroid injections are bad for you. I've already had three for tennis elbow. They seem to work fine for awhile. How many can I have without serious harm?


Injectable steroids can be very helpful for pain and swelling from arthritis and other conditions like tennis elbow. There are potential side effects to be aware of. Some are local effects like dimpling in the skin and tissue underneath or even increased pain. Others are systemic (affecting the whole body) such as muscle damage.

Most doctors agree that injections into the same joint should be done no more than once every three months. You should know this isn't based on solid research evidence. It's just a rule of thumb that doctors have adopted over the years. It may be possible to have injections more often without problems.

Brian J. Cole, MD, MBA, and H. Ralph Schumacher, Jr., MD. Injectable Corticosteroids in Modern Practice. In Journal of the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. January/February 2005. Vol. 13. No. 1. Pp. 37-46.

*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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