Cortisone Can Damage Joints-Look at Other Options!

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Interviewer: The three treatments you've talked about, the PRP, pro low therapy, stem cell treatments, what are the benefits in trying to heal the body with those avenues basically using the body's own healing mechanism versus, you know, the anti-inflammatories and the, you know, more conventional ways of treating those conditions?

Dr. Joel Baumgartner: Yeah, right. Well the old way to treat things would have been, gosh your knee hurts? Let me give you one of those cortisone shots. And the problem with cortisone is as we're finding more science out about what cortisone really does, people always think, oh I got a steroid, like all this energy. But it's actually the wrong kind of steroid. It's a steroid that actually breaks down the body. So what we're finding with cortisone, when you put cortisone into a joint, it actually breaks down that cartilage. It makes it more friable. It makes it softer. It makes it more like cottage cheese. One of the side effects, if I put cortisone too superficial into my skin, it can actually create an ulcer and eat away that skin. It almost works as acid. So it does the same thing inside your joints. It can kind of erode and make that cartilage thinner. It does a good job of blocking the pain for about two weeks. The problem is in the long run with cortisone is all the negative side effects with it. Same thing, if I put cortisone into by elbow right here, into that tennis elbow, it's going to block my pain, but it's also going to make that elbow more vulnerable to rupture that tendon off because it makes that tendon actually very weak and very friable. And then there's also systemic side effects, which means it can increase your blood sugar, increase your risk of diabetes. So we're finding with cortisone unfortunately it doesn't have any good long term effects. In all the studies when it's put head to head studies which is cortisol versus PRP is the PRP way out performs it on the long run because this will give you some short relief for a week or two. The PRP is going to outperform and get your body to heal in the long run.

Interviewer: When we talk about stem cell treatments, you said that's kind of the new way. Are we just kind of scratching the surface of what can be possible with those treatments? 

Dr. Joel Baumgartner: Yeah, I really think so. There's a lot of different variabilities. There's so much research going on now. What we're finding is that it is amazing. It is getting the body to repair cartilage. It is getting the body to heal. It's increasing people's range of motion, increasing their return to sports and activity. But again, science is amazing, and we're finding out new things every year and how to, you know, add some stuff to the stem cell to make it adhere better, or how to make that stem cell turn more into this type of cartilage versus that type of cartilage. So yeah, it is exciting in that point of view because it is kind of the surface, but we're already getting such amazing results. It's going to be a good outcome for patients.


Cortisone injections are common for minor joint issues. But what is the long-term effects of those injections? Dr. Joel Baumgartner discusses the effects of cortisone on ligaments, cartilage and skin. Find out what other options might be better.

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