Steroid injections work great for some people, but for many people the relief is temporary. New studies are showing that long term use of steroids increases cartilage loss in knees. Acupuncture provides many people with relief without any side effects. Why not try it before you and your doctor decide to do an injection?
Here's some highlight from this study on Medscape:
"Patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging at the beginning and end of the study to provide data on cartilage volume and soft-tissue structures. Among the 119 patients who completed the study, those receiving triamcinolone lost about twice as much cartilage as those in the placebo group. Specifically, the intervention group lost an average 0.21 mm in index compartment cartilage thickness compared with 0.10 mm in the control group (for a mean difference of −0.11 mm: 95% confidence interval, −0.20 to −0.03 mm)."
tldr? those taking steroids had twice as much cartilage loss in their knees.
""Also, the rate of cartilage loss in this study was commensurate with that observed in prior natural history studies, so it is likely that the difference in cartilage loss rates between groups was due to an adverse effect of intra-articular corticosteroids on cartilage rather than a benefit from intra-articular saline," the authors write."
But what's it mean? The authors thought it pertinent enough to point out - it wasn't so much that the saline injections created good outcomes, so much as the steroid injections created worsening conditions for cartilage. Damn.