Although epidural steroid injections (also called epidural corticosteroid injections) may be helpful to confirm a diagnosis, they should be used primarily after a specific presumptive diagnosis has been established. Also, injections should not be used in isolation, but rather in conjunction with a program stressing muscle flexibility, strengthening, and functional restoration.
Proper follow-up after injections to assess the patient's treatment response and ability to progress in the rehabilitation program is essential. A limited number of injections can be tried to reduce pain, but careful monitoring of the response is required prior to a second or third injection.
Guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology conditionally recommend the use of intra-articular corticosteroid injections for treatment of knee osteoarthritis. 51 The duration of pain relief is one to two weeks in most trials, with a few showing improvements lasting three to four weeks. 60 – 63 Research uniformly supports the safety of intra-articular corticosteroid injections for treatment of knee osteoarthritis; however, these studies are limited by lack of histologic data and poor long-term follow-up. 64 A Cochrane review found weak evidence for the use of corticosteroid injections for the treatment of knee rheumatoid arthritis. 52
In patients with the adrenogenital syndrome , a single intramuscular injection of 40 mg every two weeks may be adequate. For maintenance of patients with rheumatoid arthritis , the weekly intramuscular dose will vary from 40 to 120 mg. The usual dosage for patients with dermatologic lesions benefited by systemic corticoid therapy is 40 to 120 mg of methylprednisolone acetate administered intramuscularly at weekly intervals for one to four weeks. In acute severe dermatitis due to poison ivy, relief may result within 8 to 12 hours following intramuscular administration of a single dose of 80 to 120 mg. In chronic contact dermatitis, repeated injections at 5 to 10 day intervals may be necessary. In seborrheic dermatitis, a weekly dose of 80 mg may be adequate to control the condition.