Research: efficacy of steroid injections

The information replicated below concerns worldwide studies related to Chiropractic. Putney Chiropractic did not conduct the original research and only wishes to share issues with you that you may find interesting and relevant.

RESEARCH PAPER: Efficacy of steroid injections
It appears that it makes no difference in the long term outcome of shoulder or elbow pain using either steroid injections or NSAIDS. CM

Efficacy and safety of steroid injections for shoulder and elbow tendonitis: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.
C Gaujoux-Viala, M Dougados, L Gossec. Ann Rheum Dis 2009;68:1843-1849.


Objectives: To assess the efficacy and safety of steroid injections for patients with tendonitis of the shoulder or elbow.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature using PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane library and manual searches was performed until April 2008. All randomised controlled trials (RCTs) reporting the efficacy on pain or functional disability, and/or the safety of steroid injections, versus placebo, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or physiotherapy in patients with tendonitis were selected. Pooled effect size (ES) was calculated by meta-analysis using the Mantel–Haenszel method.

Results: In all, 20 RCTs were analysed (744 patients treated by injections and 987 patients treated by controls; 618 shoulders and 1113 elbows). The pooled analysis indicated only short-term effectiveness of steroids versus the pooled controls for pain and function (eg, pain at week 1–3 ES = 1.18 (95% CI 0.27 to 2.09), pain at week 4–8 ES = 1.30 (95% CI 0.55 to 2.04), pain at week 12–24 ES = −0.38 (95% CI −0.85 to 0.08) and pain at week 48 ES = 0.07 (95% CI −0.60 to 0.75)). Sensitivity analyses indicated similar results whatever the localisation, type of steroid and type of comparator except for NSAIDs: steroid injections were not significantly better than NSAIDs in the short-term. Steroid injections appeared more effective than pooled other treatments in acute or subacute tendonitis. The main side effects were transient pain after injection (10.7% of corticosteroid injections) and skin modification (4.0%).

Conclusions: Steroid injections are well tolerated and more effective for tendonitis in the short-term than pooled other treatments, though similar to NSAIDs. No long-term benefit was shown.