By Adam Weitzman
Corticosteroids, commonly called “steroids,” are a class of chemicals that includes the steroid hormones produced in the adrenal cortex as well as the synthetic analogues of these hormones. Medications of this class reduce inflammation powerfully and are distinct from “anabolic steroids” known for growth and strength properties and have limited medical benefit. “Cortisone” is one type of corticosteroid that has been shown to be safe and effective in pain management in the form of an injection through the tissue, although cortisone has more commonly been replaced by other similar steroid formulations.
As with all medicines, the goal is to do more good than harm. All medications can have side-effects or unwanted effects. In excess, corticosteroids can reduce healing or weaken ligaments. In appropriate amounts, the medication can battle the otherwise unregulated inflammation at the affected site.