Steroid Injections For Foot & Ankle Pain

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Steroid injections for foot and ankle pain involve administering corticosteroids directly into the symptomatic area to reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort. These injections can provide significant relief from inflammation-related pain, with effects ranging from temporary to long-lasting relief for multiple conditions. It is typically performed along with a local anesthetic and offers immediate pain relief. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if steroid injections are appropriate for your specific condition and with your individual medical history. 

The Role of Corticosteroids in Treating Foot and Ankle Conditions

Corticosteroids are frequently employed in managing foot and ankle conditions due to their potent anti-inflammatory properties. Administered via injection or topical application, they alleviate pain and swelling associated with multiple conditions. By reducing inflammation, corticosteroids facilitate improved mobility and function, aiding in the rehabilitation process. However, their prolonged use can lead to adverse effects such as tissue damage and weakened ligaments, necessitating cautious administration under medical supervision. Combined with conservative measures like focal shockwave therapy, electromagnetic transduction therapy, orthotics, and physical therapy, corticosteroids play a pivotal role in comprehensive treatment strategies for foot and ankle ailments.

Common Conditions Treated With Steroid Injections


Steroid injections are commonly used to treat acute gout flare-ups, providing rapid relief from pain and inflammation. By targeting the affected joint, corticosteroids swiftly reduce swelling and discomfort. They are often used in conjunction with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and colchicine.

Plantar Fasciitis

Steroid injections are occasionally used to manage plantar fasciitis, delivering anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected area to alleviate pain and swelling. In this location, the benefits tremendously outweigh the potential risks. For maximal benefit, it should be used in conjunction with focal shockwave therapy, customized foot orthoses, and physical therapy. 

Ankle Arthritis

Steroid injections can provide temporary relief for ankle osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation and pain. Administered directly into the affected joint, they offer targeted anti-inflammatory effects. However, their use is usually considered alongside other conservative measures.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Steroid injections are commonly utilized in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis to swiftly alleviate joint inflammation and pain. Administered directly into affected joints, they provide targeted relief, complementing disease-modifying medications.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Steroid injections are sometimes employed as part of treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome, a condition characterized by compression of the tibial nerve within the tarsal tunnel of the ankle. These injections aim to alleviate inflammation and consequent pain by delivering corticosteroids directly into the affected area. While they can offer temporary relief, they typically form part of a broader treatment plan, which may include physical therapy, orthotic devices, or surgery for severe cases. Careful consideration and consultation with a healthcare professional are essential to determine the appropriateness and efficacy of steroid injections in managing tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Why It Should Not Be Performed on Achilles Tendon

Steroid injections for Achilles tendinopathy may exacerbate the condition by weakening the tendon structure and increasing the risk of tendon rupture. Prolonged or repeated use can further damage the tendon and hinder natural healing processes. Conservative treatments and targeted physical therapy are generally favored to avoid potential complications.

When To Consider Steroid Injections: An Alternative to Surgery

Steroid injections may be considered as an alternative to surgery in certain medical conditions where inflammation plays a significant role. Conditions such as those mentioned above are examples where steroid injections can provide relief.

Consider steroid injections in conjunction with other recommended conservative therapies, including physical therapy, or when medications fail to adequately manage symptoms, or when surgery is not feasible or preferred. They offer a non-invasive option with the potential for pain reduction and improved function. However, it’s crucial to discuss risks, benefits, and potential outcomes with a healthcare provider to determine the most suitable course of action based on individual circumstances.

Procedure of Administering Steroid Injections

Preparing for a Steroid Injection: The Process Explained

Preparing for a steroid injection involves a few steps starting with a healthcare provider reviewing your medical history and discussing the procedure, including potential risks and benefits. You may need to stop taking certain medications prior to the injection. On the day of the procedure, you’ll be positioned comfortably, and the injection site will be cleaned and numbed with a cold spray. The healthcare provider will then carefully administer the steroid medication into the targeted area using a thin needle guided utilizing careful anatomic technique. Afterward, you may be monitored briefly before concluding your visit.

What To Expect During the Injection Procedure

Throughout the procedure, you may feel pressure or a brief sensation of discomfort as the needle is inserted. Imaging techniques like fluoroscopy may be used to guide the injection for additional accuracy. Afterward, you may experience temporary soreness or minor bruising at the injection site.

Post-injection Care and Recommendations

After a steroid injection, it’s essential to follow post-injection care guidelines for optimal recovery. Avoid strenuous activities for a short period. Apply ice packs intermittently to reduce swelling and discomfort if pain or soreness is experienced. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen may help manage any lingering discomfort. Monitor the injection site for signs of infection, such as increasing pain, redness, or swelling. Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised to assess the injection’s effectiveness and discuss any further treatment options. Adhering to these recommendations can help maximize the benefits of the steroid injection and minimize potential complications.

Safety and Risks of Steroid Injections

Steroid injections carry potential side effects and risks, including temporary pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site. Rare complications may include infection, nerve damage, or weakening of surrounding soft tissue. Systemic side effects are also rare and include elevated blood sugar levels, mood changes, or facial flushing, especially with repeated injections. Long-term use may increase the risk of osteoporosis, cataracts, or adrenal suppression. In some cases, steroid injections may mask underlying conditions, delaying proper diagnosis and treatment. It’s important to discuss potential risks with your healthcare provider and weigh them against the expected benefits before undergoing steroid injections.

Infection Risks

Infection risks with steroid injections include rare instances of localized infections at the injection site. Prompt medical attention is necessary if signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or fever develop.

Tendon and Cartilage Concerns

Steroid injections may weaken tendons and cartilage with repeated use, potentially leading to tendon rupture or cartilage damage. Careful monitoring and limiting injections are essential to mitigate these risks.

Bone Health: Osteoporosis and Osteonecrosis

Steroid injections can weaken bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and osteonecrosis. Long-term use or high doses heighten these risks, necessitating caution and monitoring for bone health.

Effectiveness and Outcomes of Steroid Injections

The effectiveness of steroid injections varies depending on the condition treated. As discussed on this page, they often provide significant relief from inflammation-related pain, with effects ranging from temporary to long-lasting. However, outcomes can differ among individuals, and multiple injections may be needed for sustained relief. It’s crucial to discuss expected outcomes with a healthcare provider, as success rates can vary based on factors such as the specific condition, injection technique, and individual response to treatment. Additionally, steroid injections are often part of a comprehensive treatment plan, which may include other therapies to optimize results.

 Our Awarded

Dr. Einul Chowdhury, DPM, AACFAS


Meet Dr. Chowdhury

Dr. Einul Chowdhury is a Board Qualified Foot & Ankle Surgeon that specializes in: lower extremity trauma, sports medicine, minimally invasive surgery, & limb deformity correction. Learn more about specialties, training and treatment philosophy by visiting Dr. Ein's full profile page.

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