A new study finds steroid injections can provide effective pain relief for patients with arthritis in their hip.
Steroid injections are anti-inflammatory medicines that treat a wide range of conditions such as joint pain, sciatica, and inflammatory bowel disease. They are only given by healthcare professionals and common examples of steroid injections include hydrocortisone and triamcinolone.
Keele University researchers looked at whether steroid injections could potentially transform treatment for hip osteoarthritis (OA) and the effects of this medication on pain and movement.
The findings were published in the British Medical Journal and the researchers Dr Zoe Paskins, Professor Edward Roddy and Professor Christian Mallen from Keele University’s School of Medicine said that these findings highlight the potential of this treatment for treating moderate to severe OA in the hip and provide more treatment choices for patients for whom treatment options are often limited.
The burden of osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes joints to become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis in the UK. The main symptoms include joint pain and stiffness and problems moving the joint. The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but several factors correlate with an increased risk of developed osteoarthritis, including:
- joint injury – overusing your joint when it has not had enough time to heal after an injury or operation
- other conditions (secondary arthritis) – osteoarthritis can happen in joints severely damaged by a previous or existing condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
- age – your risk of developing the condition increases as you get older.
- family history – osteoarthritis may run in families, although studies have not identified a single gene responsible
- obesity – being obese puts excess strain on your joints, particularly those that bear most of your weight, such as your knees and hips
- being a woman – osteoarthritis is more common in women than men.
Steroid injections: a gamechanging medication?
The research team recruited 199 adults aged over 40 years old with OA being treated within Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust hospitals. The participants were randomly split into three groups: one group received a steroid injection and a local anaesthetic injection; one received a local anaesthetic only and the last group received no injection.
The participants reported their progress at intervals of two weeks, two months, four months and six months, providing a rating of their pain from 0-10 at each interval, as well as reporting how well they could function.
The researchers found that those receiving the steroid injection had significantly reduced pain levels as well as improved ability to function over six months.
Lead author Dr Paskins said: “So often people with hip arthritis tell us they feel their treatment options are really limited. Currently, some people can access steroid injections, but it is subject to local variation and a ‘postcode lottery’. We hope these results will mean that national and international organisations will recommend steroid injections as a treatment option, and to enable more people with hip osteoarthritis to be offered the choice of steroid injections.”