When steroids don't work?

Steroids are an artificial version of chemicals, known as hormones, that occur naturally in the human body. Steroids are designed to act like these hormones and reduce inflammation. Epidural steroid injections may not give the expected results. Doctors can often recommend other options that can relieve pain, although they carry their own risks: they may prescribe opioids, a highly addictive pain reliever, for example.

Your doctor may recommend that you take medications called bisphosphonates or calcium and vitamin D supplements, along with steroids to help prevent this. However, for a small group of people, steroids work poorly or a very high dose is needed to control symptoms. If you have any of these conditions, the person treating you will need to make sure that steroids don't worsen the condition. During epidural steroid injections, doctors use an x-ray or other imaging technology to make sure the needle is placed in the correct location, which will reduce most inflammation.

This can cause thinning of the skin, stretch marks, and the face to become rounder, but it usually disappears once steroids are stopped. If you have taken steroid tablets for more than a few days, they can cause side effects known as withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking them. In children and teens, steroids can sometimes slow growth, so they will need to have their height monitored regularly. Steroid treatment can prevent your body from producing natural hormones, which can be dangerous if you get sick, have an accident, or need an operation.

People with severe asthma have more frequent outbreaks, days off work and hospitalizations, and it can be difficult to find a medication that works to control their condition, since even inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) may not be effective. A big reason people come to see us is because they have had cortisone or steroid injections in the past, but the pain keeps returning. You may not be able to start taking steroids if you have an infection or if you have any wounds on your body, since steroids can slow your improvement or hide some of your symptoms. This page is about steroids that can be taken in the form of tablets, liquids, eye creams and drops, and ointments.

For people with severe asthma, they have discovered that different things can happen inside the body to make it resistant to steroids, from genetics to the way cells communicate. If you have any questions or concerns about this, talk to the health professional who prescribed the steroids for you. If you have indigestion or other stomach problems after you start taking steroids, alcohol is likely to increase the problem, so you may want to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

Matthew M. Cress
Matthew M. Cress

Fitness Trainer. Lab technician. General food junkie. Supplement researcher.