What are steroid injections?
Steroid injections, also known as cortisone injections, contain cortisone and a local anaesthetic. Steroid injections are used by our podiatrists here at Manchester Podiatry to treat inflammation and any resulting pain that occurs in the soft tissues and joints of the foot and ankle. Steroids are not themselves painkillers, however they do relieve the pain that is caused by inflammation. Steroids are, therefore, powerful anti-inflammatories.
Cortisone is a hormone that is produced naturally in the body by the adrenal gland when the body is stressed. The cortisone produced by the adrenal gland is short acting and is released into the bloodstream. The cortisone used in injection therapy is synthetic, this means that it is chemically similar to the cortisone produced naturally in the body.
The cortisone used by our podiatrists here at Manchester Podiatry is not injected into the bloodstream but directly at the site of pain and inflammation. For example, in the foot cortisone may be injected at the site of a Morton's neuroma, at the plantar fascia to treat plantar fasciitis, or at the joint of the big toe if affected by arthritis. One of the major benefits of injecting a steroid at the site of pain and inflammation is that there are less systemic side effects (effects on the whole body), also the results are more effective because a high concentration of the steroid is given directly at the site of pain. Synthetic cortisone is also longer acting, which means longer relief from symptoms.
How do steroid injections work?
Steroids reduce inflammation, they are therefore powerful anti-inflammatories. When there is inflammation in the foot and ankle there is resulting pain, which is caused by the pressure that the swollen tissues place on nerve endings, as well as the production of certain enzymes that are released during the inflammatory process. The effects of inflammation alert the body that something is wrong, this is so that further damage can be prevented.
The steroid used by our podiatrists here at Manchester Podiatry in injection therapy is called cortisol, which works by depressing a part of the immune system that is responsible for inflammation. Inflammation is reduced by the steroids ability to limit the dilation of capillaries (small blood vessels), which in the inflammatory process dilate and fill with blood, and then leak into surrounding tissue causing heat, redness and swelling. The steroid injections also prevent the production of certain enzymes, which are released during the inflammatory process and that destroy healthy tissue. Consequently, the result of the inflammatory process is pain, therefore, once the inflammation has been reduced, any pain associated with it will decrease.
Benefits of steroid injections
The benefits of steroid injection therapy in the foot and ankle are as follows:
- A reduction of inflammation and any associated pain
- Steroid injections help to preserve the joint affected and its function
- Less side effects than steroids that are taken orally
- Onset of action is quicker and more effective than other anti-inflammatory medication
- Can be administered quickly and easily by our podiatrist
Who is suitable for steroid injection?
Steroid injections in the foot and ankle may be suitable if you suffer from:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Morton's neuroma
Prior to having a steroid injection prescribed you will need to be assessed in order to ascertain whether or not you are suitable for the injection. The decision on whether or not you are suitable is that of the administering podiatrist and is based on factors such as previous history, current medication, age and activity.