what is the difference between oral steroids and a steroid injection?

I had an intramuscular depo medrone injection but didn't seem to get the same result as when I get oral steroids.

Does anyone know what the difference is between the two and why so I seem to get a better result for tennis elbow/hip bursitis from the oral steroids?

Advice would really be appreciated, Jill

6 Replies

  • Hi jill,

    My guess is because when you get an IM injection, it's a one time thing that will only help for a few hours to a day-- unless they use a long-acting steroid, then it may take a little longer to kick-in and may last longer. Where as when you take oral steroids, it becomes longer-acting and it builds-up in your system because you take them every day-- also because the medicine ends up going through your entire GI system, liver, and then gets distributed throughout your bloodstream, it will work systemically. The same with I.V injections/infusions, except this even works better/quicker than oral pills because it goes directly into the bloodstream. Usually I.M injections directly given into a joint muscle will help give some relief much quicker to that specific area, but again, it is only temporary. Its kind of strange though because my Grandma has RA and Sjogren's and she gets I.M injections of dexamethasone every 8 weeks, and for her, it takes a couple days to kick-in, but once it does, she says she gets full body relief and it lasts for weeks at a time. I suppose like I said, it depends which steroid they use because some are short-acting and others are stronger and longer-acting. It also depends on your own body because every body is different and responds differently to the same med. I know for me, oral steroids don't hep much, but if I get a large injection or infusion into an I.v, then it works very well for me. I.M injections also don't do much to help me either.

    Not sure if this helps.


  • Hi Jill Hun,

    So sorry to hear your really suffering with your elbows and other bits at the moment hun.

    I'm afraid I don't know the answer to your question either and my reason for replying to your question,( apart from giving you a very special hug of course ) is to suggest that this is the type of question we could all benefit of knowing the answer to and maybe you could direct it towards the medical panel on the BSS ?

    I don't know if they are able to answer our questions on this group as it is a general question which affects quite a few of the group and we could do with an offical explanation from someone who is medically qualified to give us all an answer.

    If they can't give an answer directly to the whole group, perhaps you could ask them as an individual and get their permission to publish their response to the rest of us ?

    It seems to me to be a very useful and specific question that we would all benefit from knowing the answer to in the favour of the general overall education status for the whole forum.

    What do you think Hun ??

    If BSS admin is reading this reply, perhaps you could chip in and give us a bit of advice about asking the medical panel questions like this and if they would be willing to come forward and give us a general answer on topics such as this ?

    What say everyone else on this subject ?

    Biggest hugs to you specifically of course Jill hun. Hope you don't feel I have hijacked your question hun, but I think a genuine medical answer would be very useful for all of us here.

    tootles xx :)

  • Hi Jill

    Not exactly on the same track but when I was given the cyclophosphamide infusion the doctor explained that the infusions were actually safer than taking tablets. The tablets have to go through the GI system whereas the infusion is into the bloodstream.

    In your case probably into tissue, or directly where it is needed.

    If it is any help I had them into the neck (twice) for a whiplash accident years ago. Definitely worked after the second injection.

    Thinking of you


  • PS Should have added, I've had the I.V infusions like Jenna, however the doctor won't let me go off the 15mgs prednisolone maintenance dose (tablets).

  • I have the methylprednisone iv when really bad over 5 days and that works great for me much better than oral. I am on 90mg oral and humira with leflonomide and not much relief at all. This flare has been a year long so far and in Feb i had the iv it works great for a few weeks but i have comr back down to earth with a bump. I am waiting to see Dr Moots now after being referred a few weeks ago. The steroid injection works for the joint its put into i assume. I have never had that as all my joints swell so i would be a pin cushion!!

  • sorry guys, as Lesley would say I am terrible at giving half a story...(just like you Lesley :-))

    I had an intramuscular steroid injectionmethylprednisolone into my butt, which did help for a short time but not as good as oral steroids.

    I didnt mean into the actual joint...more like what you are talking about infliximab, but not IV

    Having said that, I can see that the dose of steroids needs to keep getting upped as I am on day 3 and I still feel like the tin man in the Wizrd of Oz :-(

    Keep the debate going guys xx

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