Are you dealing with some sort of knee pain and you aren’t sure what to do or how to get it taken care of? If you’re looking for an alternative option to traditional medicinal approaches then this blog post is for you. We are going to explore the potentially harmful side effects and symptoms from corticosteroid injections as the primary means to address knee and joint paint.
A lot of times the joint pain starts when you’re in your early 30’s. Initially, that joint pain in your knees can be resolved through physical therapy by strengthening the knees with guided exercise. Another option to address initial knee and joint pain could involve taking an over-the-counter medication (also known as NSAIDS). By taking over-the-counter medication, the knee or joint pain will subside briefly and allow you temporary relief. However, as you continue to age or if you lead an active lifestyle this pain will return. The average person takes approximately 10,000 steps per day. With every step, you take there is the constant pounding of the knee joint. Over a sustained period of time, you can expect it to wear down the cartilage within the knee. Cartilage is a fine, rubbery tissue that acts as a cushion between the bones of joints. People without sufficient cartilage will commonly experience joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation (swelling). When you feel any kind of knee pain, that pain equals inflammation and swelling. Inflammation and swelling are your body’s natural way to indicate something isn’t ‘right.’ Maybe you tweaked a ligament playing a pickup game of soccer or you were walking around with a heavy backpack that added even more pressure and strain to your knees. We can injure our knees through daily repetitive use.
Knees are one of the most common joints that are replaced through surgery. Knees are the workhorse for the body. When you walk where does all the pressure go? It goes from your ankles to knees to hips. It would make sense that the first thing to go would be the knees. That’s why you keep hearing about ge[ng a knee replacement when experiencing chronic joint pain. It seems like a natural progression after going to your doctor. Let’s go on a health care journey to figure out how people get to that knee replacement. You may have success after your ini$al s$nt with physical therapy, but after some time the knee pain returns. You’ll try physical therapy again, but this time it isn’t as effective. The knee pain remains despite your best efforts. The knee pain is constant. It’s affecting how you walk and run. The knee pain is now consuming your life and diminishing your overall quality of life. From there, you’ll be recommended nonsteroidal an$ inflammatory drug (NSAIDS), over-the-counter pain relief medication or you might require prescription pain medicine to help subside the pain. Your doctor may adjust your medication multiple times, but you still aren’t receiving overall relief. Prescription medication can bring alongside effects. It can affect your liver, kidneys, and possible weight gain. (Don’t forget, more weight gain will contribute to increased knee pain. More weight equals more knee pain!)
Now, at this point, you’ve gained weight from trying the pain medication route. However, that medication does not fix your chronic knee or joint pain in the long-term. The medication loses its overall effectiveness over time due to prolonged use. At a typical medical practice, they will likely suggest a cortisone shot. Also called “corticosteroid” or “steroid shot.” This is designed to remove inflammation from your joint. However, ask yourself, “Why is there inflammation in the first place?” It is present because there is some sort of dysfunction. Our body will produce an inflammatory response to let us know that something is not right. The inflammatory response also releases pain. That’s why you experience the symptom of pain when inflammation is occurring. Pain is your body trying to tell you something isn’t right. Our body is designed to be a super healer. It’s pretty amazing. We are supposed to heal ourselves. That’s how biology works. That is how human beings are designed. When you cut yourself on something there is inflammation. You don’t think about it, but your body automatically knows what to do. Your body will actually send growth factors to the area where there is a problem and starts to repair it naturally. These growth factors take your body’s DNA and say, ‘Oh I know that’s a cut skin cell, I better fix it. Oh, that’s a blood cell I have to fix it. Yes, that’s a nerve cell I have to fix it!’ Your body starts triggering these responses to repair the damage. The same phenomenon will happen with your knee. If you tear a ligament or start damaging your cartilage then your body will produce that inflammation to trigger the response. If you’re young and healthy and your body has inflammation, your body will send the growth factors over to the pain point and start to repair it. Everything’s fixed! You’re back to normal! Back to enjoying your life. Unfortunately, as you start to get older and your cells age, those growth factors no longer respond as effectively. Your body is not able to fix the problem in the same way or with the same expediency as it used to. That pain is going to become nagging and it will become frustrating.
When you’ve hit this point of limited mobility and decreased quality of life due to chronic knee pain, your doctor’s office will typically recommend the cortisone shots. We do not do this procedure or plan of care at our office and here’s why: you should not have more than one cortisone shot in one area of your body in your LIFETIME. This fact is pretty unbelievable because there are many people that have received as many as ten cortisone shots in their lifetime!
Let’s explain what cortisone injections do. When cortisone is injected into your knee, it removes the inflammation. However, remember that inflammation was there for a reason. It had a purpose. It was there to help you fix the problem. If you remove that inflammation, what do you actually think is going to happen to your knee? By removing the inflammation, the body can’t heal from that problem naturally anymore. This process does the opposite of what the body is trying to do. Instead of repairing the damage, or allowing your body’s naturally occurring anti-aging process, it is doing the opposite. By removing the inflammation it is degenerating your knee. This actually causes your joint to age much faster than it would normally.
There are also many side effects of cortisone injections. Any time you get a cortisone injection you will be required to fill out an informed consent form prior to the procedure. On that consent form, it will explain the risks associated with the procedure. If you read it thoroughly you will notice there are surprising risks associated with receiving corticosteroid injections in your joints. One such risk is the possibility of necrosis. Necrosis means death. In this instance, it means it could lead to the death of the bone or death of the tissue. By receiving a cortisone injection you will actually be destroying your joints for temporary relief of pain. Fast forward to 6 or 9 months later? All of a sudden your pain is back. The pain is likely worse than it was the first time. The pain will be worse because you have less cartilage in the joint. There will also be more degeneration of the tissue and joint. If you compare your knee joint to someone who did not receive a cortisone shot your joint will look 5-10 years older. You’re now in more pain than the person who did not receive a cortisone shot and your knee joint has aged and degenerated even faster!
This is why we provide alternative nonsurgical medicine. We do not want you to make a bad decision. We want you to make the best decisions for your health. Every treatment we offer our patients at NIVA Health is the same approach to overall health and wellness that we would provide our own family. Make informed decisions about your health. If you have any questions regarding our treatment approach to address chronic knee or joint pain, please message us.