Can steroid injections help my painful thumb?

Can steroid injections help my painful thumb?

Pain from osteoarthritis of the base of the thumb is common.  It affects about 1/4 of post-menopausal women, of whom about 1/4 will have pain.  One option for painful osteoarthritis is an injection of corticosteroid into the joint.  This can be done in clinic, in the ultrasound suite, or in the operating theatre using x-ray guidance.


A group from Derby looked at how effective these injections were in 2010.  They looked at 83 patients with an average age of 62 years.  2/3 of patients were improved at 2months, and nearly half had improvement still at 3 months.  1/6 had benefit at six months, and some even had effective pain relief at two years.  How bad the arthritis was didn't seem to particularly affect how much benefit patient's got from the injections.


So the injections are generally a useful tool for managing pain from arthritis, especially if a splint isn't helping, and if the patient doesn't want to consider surgery.  They will help most people still at 3months, and some still at 2 years.  They do have side-effects, including the potential to thin the skin or make the skin at the injection site a slightly different colour, so we discuss these risks prior to injection.


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