Q. What effect do cortisone shots have on the body? In order to keep playing tennis I have received shots in my hip, knees and shoulders over the last few years.

I have read that oral prednisone can lead to osteoporosis. What about shots? Are there any strategies to reverse such a problem?

A. Diminished bone density and osteoporosis are well-known complications of oral prednisone treatment. A new study of injected corticosteroids found that a single shot into the spine for back pain reduced bone mineral density of the hip (Spine, Dec. 1, 2012). Whether administered by injection, in pills or through an inhaler, steroids weaken bones.

We are sending you our Guide to Osteoporosis, with a discussion of drugs that hasten bone loss and ways to prevent it. Extra vitamin D, calcium, regular weight-bearing exercise and osteoporosis medications may be helpful to prevent fractures. Although the bone drugs such as Boniva and Fosamax may be prescribed for those who must take steroids, there are some limits to their helpfulness.

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  1. Judy

    Is hydrocortisone considered in this same family? I’ve been taking 5 mg for a few months for adrenal’s. I’ve also had 3 steroid injections in my back dice last Oct. I was researching because I now have hip & groin pain. What do you think? Thanks

  2. HB

    I have been prescribed Flonase for nasal congestion, as some others have also written about. Is there a concern that this will affect my bones much as other steroids?

  3. cg

    yes they can. many docs will say no but I am a life-long asthmatic & have used all the various forms of catabolic steroids. my current docs agree that there is a risk.

  4. Sk

    I think doctors might be catching on to the harmful effects of these shots. My 90 year old Grandmother was receiving these shots every other month for years for severe scoliosis. Then they told her only every 3 months, now it’s only every 6 months. Unfortunately they don’t have good alternatives for the pain. We are now using acupuncture and she is having good results, but is still in daily pain. At her age there is not much else they can suggest she use.

  5. MPH

    I also use Flonase nasal spray for my allergies. Does this also reduce bone mass in the body?

  6. A.S.

    Do topical steroid creams like Lotrisone also weaken bones?

  7. AG

    Does the same hold true to nasal sprays, ex. Flonase, fluticasone, etc.?

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