20 Important Things Doctors Wish You Knew About Arthritis

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7. Cortisone injections don’t help in the long term

“A single shot can ease pain,” says Timothy McAlindon, MD, MPH, chief of rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center. But the relief is only temporary and injections aren’t a long term solution. A recent study found that repeated shots of cortisone, a steroid, not only didn’t control pain but actually led to more joint damage.

Dr. Colvin suggests having no more than three cortisone injections over a lifetime. “They can be very helpful if someone has arthritis and nothing else is helping, or for someone who isn’t ready for surgery, or whose arthritis isn’t bad enough to need surgery yet,” says Dr. Colvin. But remember, “anything you do that’s not surgery isn’t changing the underlying process of the cartilage wearing away,” she says.

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