Steroid injections: your questions answered

Dr. Justin Woolley from Parkshot Medical can answer your queries*



Cortisone (also known as steroid) is the name used to describe the corticosteroid group of medicines. Discovered in the 1930s and further developed in the ’50s, a cortisone or steroid injection is a very powerful anti-inflammatory and is effective at treating many painful joint and tendon conditions.



A steroid injection can be used to settle pain and help you to get moving so that you can achieve some gains with your rehabilitation. It can also be useful if progress stagnates and pain is preventing you form pushing ahead with your exercise programme.



Commonly injected painful conditions include: shoulder pain, elbow pain, the tendons in the hand, the carpal tunnel, the wrist and thumb joints, the soft tissues over the outer aspect of the thigh, the knees and surrounding soft tissue, the toes and the plantar fascia.


The discomfort of most injections is minimal and often the benefit can be felt straight away. The effect of the steroid will increase over the first week and continue working for up to 3 months. In some conditions injections can be repeated up to 3-4 times a year if needed but  for most conditions you only need the one injection.



As with any medicine or treatments there are potential side effects and these must be weighed against the potential benefit. In up to 10% of people joints may become more painful for 24 hours or so after the injection Very rarely, an infection arises and this will need to be treated but this is perhaps 1 in 30,000. Other possible side effects include a white spot at the sight of the injection or a dimple if the injection is superficial. These are always discussed in full before the injection is carried out.


Dr. Justin Woolley

*Dr. Woolley is a general practitioner  at Parkshot Medical Richmond. He has been performing steroid injections for over 10 years. He has a special interest in sports and exercise medicine.



If you have any particular queries or would like more information Dr. Woolley is happy for you to contact him via his website:


Lawton Gate House,
7 Hill Street, Richmond,
London, TW9 1SX

020 8332 1132