Corticosteroid injections are the most common types of injections for a variety of painful conditions. Sports medicine and pain management physicians utilize corticosteroid injections in the treatment of all sorts of joint and spinal conditions. Such intra-articular degenerative conditions include bursitis, tendinitis and arthritis. Many different types of spinal conditions which corticosteroid are used to treat include disk disease (herniations, degeneration etc), nerve root impingement, and spinal stenosis among others.
Corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation and decreasing edema (swelling) in tissues. This ultimately leads to an improvement in pain and range of motion and thereby improves function. These treatments are quick and inexpensive, and therefore certainly have a role in the treatment of such conditions. However they do have some downsides. As they do not actually treat the condition, the benefit may be temporary. Additionally, steroid injections are not without side effects. They can affect both body hormone levels and increase blood glucose levels. Because of the latter, I tend to avoid these in diabetic patients.
There are many other therapeutics available for injection that are both effective and safe. These include two homeopathic injectables called Traumeel and Zeel. These are homeopathic botanical substances that reduce inflammation and pain. Results of studies have concluded positive results for knee osteoarthritis. They also have been utilized for muscle pain (trigger point injections), other joint conditions (ie. rotator cuff inflammation), as well as tendinitis and sprains of various joints.
Specifically concerning knee conditions, there are several similar substances that lubricate the joint, thereby improving pain, range of motion and function. The knee (as all joints) has synovial fluid, the body’s own joint lubricator. However, in osteoarthritis, the amount in the joint lessens, causing friction and an accelerated wearing down of cartilage. These products contain Hyaluronic acid, which adds supplemental lubrication and cushioning to the joint. Downsides include requiring a series of up to three injections, a lack of immediate benefit, cost, and possible drug side effects.
Spinal and nerve conditions may improve with injection of Sarapin. Sarapin is a natural extract made from the Pitcher plant. It works by targeting specific nerve involved in pain transmission. I have used this medication for spinal injections for years with positive results. It works on herniated disks, pinched nerves (and other nerve conditions) and spinal stenosis, among others. It also can be used for muscular, ligamentous and peripheral nerve conditions.
Finally, regenerative therapies are the latest, most exciting and innovative therapies available. These may include Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Exosomes and others. Much more information can be found on my regenerative website: www.regenpainnj.com. These treatments can promote regeneration of healthy tissues, replacing worn and degenerative tissue in every joint of the body. They also can be utilized for degenerative intervertebral disk disorders, as well as neurological conditions. Much more studies are needed, but many people, including professional athletes have used these treatments with positive results.