Patients with symptomatic knee arthritis do not benefit from steroid injections, concludes a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The new research looked at the severity of knee pain experienced by people given steroid injections into the knee compared with people given a Saline placebo. Steroid/Saline injections were administered every 3 months over a period of two years.

No significant differences were found between the two groups in terms of pain levels. However, it was noted that patients receiving the steroid demonstrated a greater loss of cartilage thickness over the course of the study than those in the placebo group.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that currently has no cure. It is thought to affect 8.5 million people within the UK at any one time, and is more common with increasing age. Treatment is aimed at slowing progression and relieving symptoms.

Steroid injections are a common intervention offered to patients with osteoarthritis, particularly when affecting the knee, as a means of reducing pain levels.

However, it has been known for a long time that steroid injections do not slow the progression of osteoarthritis and that they can cause a condition known as osteonecrosis, leading to rapid deterioration of bone.

Based on their findings, the authors of this latest research recommend against steroid injections for the treatment of knee arthritis.

Other treatment methods that have been shown to be effective for the management of osteoarthritis include weight loss, exercise and manual therapy. These interventions provide the bonus of slowing the progression of arthritis, as well as relieving pain.

The research on the use of supplements to help with osteoarthritis is inconclusive at present, and advice should be sought before trialling this route.

As chiropractors, we often help people with osteoarthritis by providing manual therapy and exercise advice. If you would like to get in touch, please click here.

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