Early trials of intra-articular corticosteroids showed equal systemic absorption of methylprednisolone in patients with rheumatic and osteoarthritic hands 42 and knees. 43 This suggests that steroid pharmacokinetics, rather than disease-related factors, should guide steroid selection. A recent review by the National Health Service of the United Kingdom 44 recommends triamcino-lone and methylprednisolone as preferred agents for injection of large joints (., knee). For smaller joints (., finger), either hydrocortisone or methylprednisolone (Hydeltrasol, brand no longer available in the United States) is recommended. Tables 5 and 6 45 compare commonly available steroid preparations.
Steroid injections are commonly used to treat rotator cuff tendinopathy, but controlled studies have demonstrated modest benefit, particularly in the long term. 34 Steroid injections should be reserved for patients who have discomfort that would limit them from engaging in rehabilitative exercises. Injections into the gluteal muscle versus guided injections into the subacromial bursa have demonstrated similar levels of pain relief. 35 Surgical options are available for patients with persistent symptoms, or for patients in whom function cannot be maintained.