Steroid medications can be given systemically (orally and through the IM/IV line) or injected locally to the joint. It allows to deliver a high dose of the medication directly to the problem area and minimize systemic side effects. Most of the time joint injections do no cause any side effects especially if they are given in intervals more than every 3-4 months.

In rare circumstances (approximately 1 in 3500 procedures in one study),  the following side effects might occur:

  • Infection
  • Allergic reactions
  • Bleeding into the joint
  • Rupture of a tendon
  • Skin discoloration
  • Weakening of bone, ligaments, and tendons (especially with frequent injections into the same area)

Steroids are not injected if there is a suspicion of the infection in the joint or elsewhere in the body.

There is a possibility of post injection flare up on the next day after the procedure. It can be related to the crystallization of the medication that usually goes away next day. In general the benefit from the injection can be felt after 72 hours. If the flare up lasts longer or starts after 48 hours after the procedure, patient should be assessed by the physician. The signs of the infectious complication might include fever, increasing pain, redness or drainage around the injected site.