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Can I have steroid injections for arthritis in my neck and head?

Q) Can I have steroid injections for arthritis in my neck and head? I had them in my shoulder for rotary cuff and they were very effective.
Doreen Higgins (Winter 2015)

A) Steroid injections into the neck are used much less often than injections into the shoulder. They're far more complicated than joint injections to the shoulder or knee, so they need to be given by specialists in hospital using x-ray guidance.

These injections are used mostly to relieve pain that radiates into the arms from the neck because of nerve irritation. They're an option when the pain isn’t settling with simple treatments such as painkillersphysiotherapy and exercises.

Some people have injections into the facet joints of the neck if the pain of arthritis in these joints isn't improving with other treatments. Again, these need to be done in hospital, and while they may improve pain in the short term, unfortunately they don't cure the arthritis or the pain in the long term.

This answer was provided by Dr Tom Margham for the Winter 2015 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

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