The Story of Steroid Knee Injections and Healthcare in America

As a physical therapist, I’m often asked by patients about steroid injections for knee arthritis pain. I’ve worked with many who’ve received them, only to find mixed results. For some individuals they’ve been a lifesaver, the pain-relieving effects lasted for months. Others may have noticed improvement for several days, only to have the same pain return within a week. And for others, they noticed absolutely no difference. So what gives? Why such mixed results?

Research on steroid injections for chronic pain due to arthritis reveals less than stellar results. One study even found the use of injections accelerated the breakdown of healthy cartilage in the knee and had no impact on reported pain levels in those who received the injections.

Interpreting the Results

Understanding what’s happening here requires us to take a step back and look at the big picture of the human body. And the way our medical system views the body and the healing...

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When Body Alignment Matters: Function v. Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States, with an annual cost estimated to be about $100 billion. These costs are associated with healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity. A majority of adults experience acute pain at least once in their lives with about 28% later developing chronic pain.

With the nation’s growing opioid epidemic, there's been considerable emphasis on understanding the sources of chronic pain. Many mistakenly believe that tissue damage is directly correlated with a person’s risk of developing chronic pain. Statements from medical professionals to their patients which include “Your MRI shows that you have the spine of an 80 year old and you can expect to be in pain for the rest of your life” or “just avoid stairs or squatting entirely if your knees are hurting” just further exacerbate the myths surrounding chronic pain.

There is much confusion regarding body alignment, movement, and pain...

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