Corticosteroids are used to control inflammation in arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Corticosteroids can be injected directly into inflamed tissues, or they can be delivered to the whole body via oral preparations, intravenous injections, or intramuscular injections. Steroid injections may provide significant relief to patients with arthritis or musculoskeletal conditions. For patients with rheumatoid arthritis , the injections are typically offered when only one or two joints display active synovitis . The goal of treatment is to quell symptoms of a flare or to enable slower-acting drugs, such as methotrexate or Plaquenil , time to work. For example, in early rheumatoid arthritis, study results revealed that a combination of DMARDs and intra-articular steroids is significantly better than DMARDs alone.
Epidural steroid injections are most commonly used in situations of radicular pain, which is a radiating pain that is transmitted away from the spine by an irritated spinal nerve. Irritation of a spinal nerve in the low back ( lumbar radiculopathy ), such as from lumbar spinal stenosis , cervical spinal stenosis, herniated disc , and foraminal encroachment, causes back pain that goes down the leg. Epidural injection is also used as a minimally invasive procedure to treat nerve compression in the neck (cervical spine), referred to as cervical radiculopathy , which causes pain.