, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 95–103 | Cite as

Intra-Articular Corticosteroids in Arthritic Disease

A Guide to Treatment
  • Mikkel Østergaard
  • Poul Halberg
Disease Management


Intra-articular corticosteroid injections are widely used in aseptic arthritis, most often as a supplement to systemic anti-inflammatory therapy. Suppression of local joint inflammation by corticosteroids is rapid and pronounced, and may be achieved with only minor systemic effects; however, this suppression is usually only temporary. The original compound hydrocortisone acetate has been replaced by longer-acting preparations such as methylprednisolone acetate, tri-amcinolone acetonide and triamcinolone hexacetonide. In controlled studies, triamcinolone hexacetonide has proved most effective, providing clinical effect for a mean period up to several months. However, this compound frequently causes local tissue necrosis when injected outside a synovial cavity, and it should be used only by experienced clinicians.

Indications for intra-articular corticosteroids include mono- or oligoarthritis in rheumatoid arthritis and other aseptic inflammatory joint diseases. Intra-articular corticosteroids are also used in osteoarthritis, but in controlled studies the effect is brief and transient.

A number of potential adverse effects of intra-articular corticosteroids stress the importance of their judicious use. The risk of cartilage damage and progressive joint destruction is a controversial issue. The results of animal studies are ambiguous. Despite case reports of severe arthropathy, most studies on humans suggest that, when used appropriately, the beneficial effects of intra-articular corticosteroids exceed the harmful effects. Nevertheless, it is recommended that corticosteroid injections into the same joint should be limited, for instance to 1 injection every 6 weeks and no more than 3 to 4 in 1 year. Prior to intra-articular corticosteroid injections the indications and contraindications should always be considered. In particular, infection should be ruled out. Strict aseptic technique is essential to avoid iatrogenic septic arthritis.

Correct intra-articular corticosteroid therapy is of great clinical value in the management of aseptic arthritic disease.


Rheumatol Triamcinolone Acetonide Tiaprofenic Acid Arthroscopic Synovectomy Triamcinolone Hexacetonide 
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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikkel Østergaard
    • 1
  • Poul Halberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RheumatologyHvidovre HospitalHvidovreDenmark

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