Myths and Misconceptions of Steroid Shots

July 28, 2019


Steroids, (short for corticosteroids), are very commonly used to treat inflammation in the body. Steroids are prescribed for a variety of illnesses including asthma, acute illnesses such as strep throat and for joint problems including arthritis. In general, steroids decrease the body’s immune responses which in turn, work to decrease inflammation.

Steroids can be taken by mouth, injected into a muscle, or injected directly into a joint, depending on the diagnosis from a physician. Steroids, when taken orally, distribute very small doses of the medicine throughout the body over time. However, by injecting the steroids, a powerful dose of medication is directed either into the bloodstream or sometimes directly at the source of the inflammation. Because of the strong, quick effects, steroid shots are often the preferred treatment to alleviate pain and inflammation more rapidly.

Corticosteroids are different from anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of testosterone. This type of steroid has often been linked to misuse by athletes looking to boost their performance. Because of these negative implications, this sometimes leads to confusion and misconceptions about the use of corticosteroids.

We asked Dr. Benjamin Barlow, our Chief Medical Officer to help us clear up some of these myths and misconceptions about the use of steroid shots.

Myth #1:

Steroid shots are dangerous.

Steroid injections are generally very safe when used under a doctor’s supervision. Your physician knows the limits of how often steroid shots can be given. He/she will also offer advice on the use of steroid shots if you have specific medical problems that might interfere with the injection (for example – steroids can temporarily increase blood sugar levels in a patient with diabetes).

Myth #2:

Steroid shots are more painful than other shots.

No one enjoys getting an injection, but usually, steroid shots are no more painful than any other type of injection. If the needle is to be injected into a joint due to arthritis pain or swelling, oftentimes a local anesthetic is applied to help minimize any discomfort. The pain-and symptom-relief benefits of a steroid injection generally outweigh the temporary discomfort that the shot may cause.

Myth #3:

Steroid shots make you gain weight.

Long-term, high-dose steroid use can lead to weight gain, however, this side effect is more likely to occur while taking oral steroids rather than injections. When taking steroid injections under a physician’s supervision the side effects are generally very minimal.

At American Family Care, our mission is to provide the best healthcare possible. Our dedicated and knowledgeable staff is here to help with any of your questions and medical needs. Visit to find a location near you!


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