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Corticosteroid shots and other things you should work to avoid with age

knee injuryAs we have said before, we are not completely opposed to the use of off-the-shelf or prescription medications. Under the guidance of your medical doctor, there are cases when they are necessary. On the other hand, we always emphasize the value of pursuing a more natural and holistic form of treatment whenever possible.

Why? Because medications and treatments that involve injecting or introducing a formulated compound into the body carries possible side effects.

The latest example came earlier this month, when a new study from the Boston Medical Center cast doubt on the safety and benefits of a very common treatment for Osteoarthritis.

If you or a family member gets periodic injections for knee or hip problems, this treatment will be quite familiar to you. It involves the injection of corticosteroids directly into the joint tissue for pain relief.

Red flags raise the need for more study

Dr. Ali Guermazi is a professor of radiology at Boston University and the lead author of a new study on this treatment method (recently published in the medical journal Radiology). He and his team carried out an “observational study” of 459 patients at the Boston Medical Center who received corticosteroid hip or knee injections last year. Eight per cent of these patients suffered negative complications in the months that followed.

Dr. Guermazi acknowledged more study is needed to confirm a connection between these complications and the injection itself. However, in his view, the incidence rate of a complication warrants a profound rethink of this treatment option. In the CBC story linked to above, he referenced a separate study from two years ago that found “no significant difference in knee pain” between patients who received a corticosteroid injection and those who were given a placebo. (The patients who agreed to participate in that study didn’t know which injection they were getting.)

Both studies found evidence of loss of cartilage following corticosteroid treatments. The story also cites other studies that have also cast doubts on the value and even safety of this treatment method.

All of which brings us back to what we always say – medications have risks of side effects, sometimes significant. Intrusive procedures like surgeries also have big risks (read our previous post about how golfer Tiger Woods “won the back surgery lottery.”)

Make informed decisions!

That is the key message we want you to take away from all this.

In some instances, the right medication in the right dosage, can be crucial to your health and well-being, whether it is meant to deal with a short-term issue, or a long-term one. We are lucky in this country to have access to the pharmaceuticals, and to the health plans that cover their cost, that we do.

But when it comes to your bones and joints and the soft tissues that connect them, when the damage is done, it’s often permanent. Medications like corticosteroids don’t “fix” anything, they just provide temporary pain relief (and perhaps not even that.) Sure, we have options like back surgery, or knee/hip replacement surgery, but these are drastic and irreversible steps to take.

It’s much better for your long-term health and quality of life, to take the best care possible of your body, starting with today, to help delay or even avoid the progression of conditions like Osteoarthritis, and the eventual need for something so drastic as joint replacement surgery.

What action can you take, today?

For some people, old injuries are working against them. For others, these kinds of degenerative diseases may be driven by lifestyle choices. But in either case, lifestyle changes can make a difference. For many people, the biggest is weight loss, to reduce the amount of strain and stress on their joints.

If you suffer with neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, and other complaints of your knees and hips, we will do what we can to help. But as always, it is what you do, each and every day, in between your visits to our Kanata Chiropractic clinic that may have the greatest impact on your health and quality of life as you age.

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