What Are Steroids?
Corticosteroids, usually referred to simply as steroids, are synthetic drugs designed to mimic the body’s natural hormone cortisol. Cortisol comes from the adrenal glands and is often referred to as the stress hormone. This is because the body produces it when it is experiencing stress.
Cells all throughout your body have cortisol receptors. As you can imagine, this means that cortisol performs many different tasks in different parts of your body.
It assists in regulating blood sugar and blood pressure as well as your metabolism. It also affects the body’s levels of sodium and water retention. Most particularly, it is an anti-inflammatory hormone, making it highly important for healing injuries. Proper levels of cortisol are vital for your health. Having too much or too little cortisol can cause a variety of health problems.
In medicine, cortisol’s anti-inflammatory properties are of particular interest. This is why steroids exist. They treat a range of inflammatory diseases and calm the immune system so it does not overreact to injuries or illnesses.
Steroids are usually administered via injection. This is so that they can work in one concentrated area. If patients take steroids orally or through an IV, they may not transfer enough of the hormone to the area that needs treatment.
What Conditions Are Treated With Steroid Shots?
Steroids treat inflammatory illnesses and injuries. They are particularly helpful for diseases that cause chronic, or long-term, inflammation, which itself has many side effects. These diseases include conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, tuberculosis, hepatitis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Steroids can also be used to treat injuries that have become critically inflamed. In these cases, injections are given directly into the injury site, such as into tendons to treat tendonitis or into bursae to treat bursitis.
Helen is a 65-year-old woman. She has worked with her hands her entire life, spending a lot of time cooking, gardening, knitting, and doing other activities. As she has aged, however, she has developed rheumatoid arthritis in her hands. This is exceedingly painful and keeps her from performing her daily activities.
Since rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease, it affects more than just Helen’s hands. She also experiences exhaustion, fever, and swollen, painful joints.
Helen knows that having rheumatoid arthritis increases her risk of other symptoms and diseases. The inflammation may spread to her organs, including her lungs, heart, kidneys, bone marrow, and blood vessels. She also is more likely to develop osteoporosis, lymphoma, lung disease, and heart problems.
Her doctor prescribes her a corticosteroid that will be injected into her hands. This will alleviate her severe pain and inflammation. However, the doctor doesn’t want Helen to stay on the steroids long-term, and there are good reasons why.
Side Effects of Steroid Shots
No medication or medical treatment comes without the possibility of side effects. Steroids are no different.
As with most medications, there is the potential risk of an allergic reaction with steroid shots. Patients may also develop infections, bleed from the area of the injection, or experience a broken tendon. However, these reactions are not common.
The larger risk of side effects comes with an extended treatment of continuing injections, whether in joints, muscles, or the spinal cord. In some cases, steroid shot side effects can cause bones, tendons, and ligaments to break down.
Short-term steroid shot side effects might include local soreness, bruises, redness of the face, or temporarily high blood sugar if you are a diabetic. If you already have high blood pressure, this may also rise for several days. You may also have bad headaches, appetite and mood fluctuations, or insomnia.
Long-term Side Effects
But there are also side effects that may be long-term, serious, or even permanent. Some are cosmetic, such as losing fat or melanin in the area where you received the shot. Patients may also develop infections.
Many of these side effects can vary in type and intensity depending on where you get your steroid shot. But while some only cause cosmetic or short-term issues, others can be significantly more serious.
In some cases, steroid shot side effects can include infection of the area where the shot was given, such as a joint. But the real concern is the side effects that can cause long-term or permanent damage to surrounding nerves, tendons, muscles, and even bone. Therefore, doctors recommend limits on the number of steroid injections a patient can receive in a certain period of time.
Helen undergoes a long-term treatment of steroid injections for her rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, the steroids cause her bones to weaken, a condition called osteoporosis. She is diagnosed after falling down in her garden. It’s a minor fall, but not for someone with her condition, and she is shocked to find her leg is broken.
So, What Is the Solution?
Fortunately for Helen, there are other options. Gradually, medical experts are finding evidence that skin patches can provide steroid treatments that are just as effective as injections. The benefits, of course, are that there are no needles and no long-term side effects of the treatment. She can treat her rheumatoid arthritis without suffering needlessly because of other illnesses, infections, or pain.
Skin patches work in a straightforward way: they are simply applied directly to the site of inflammation. Cortisol is absorbed through the skin into the injured area. It works just the way an injection does, without the pain, invasive treatment, or short- and long-term side effects.
AgeForce provides top-quality skin patches designed to treat your inflammation with hormones. This is a safe and effective way to treat your inflammation, however it may be caused. Whether you are suffering from arthritis or have bouts of tendonitis, it is easy to find relief with a patch applied directly to the site. There are no needles and no dangerous side effects. This makes AgeForce a perfect choice to help you treat your inflammation non-invasively. Contact us today to start treating your inflammation.