A positive correlation between steroid Injections and cuff tendon tears: a cohort study using a clinical database

Review written by Todd Hargrove info

Key Points

  1. Steroid injection was associated with 7.4 times greater risk of rotator cuff tear than non-injection in patients diagnosed with shoulder disease.
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Shoulder pain is common during a clinical visit to primary care, making up 1.2% of general practice visits, accounting for 6.9-34% of the entire population and 21% of those over 70 years (1). Shoulder pain can occur for a variety of reasons causing physical and mental suffering while increasing the socioeconomic burden. Therefore, effective treatments are essential to improve outcomes.

Physiotherapy treatments for shoulder pain may consist of manual therapy, exercise, education, electrotherapy, and taping. However, the rapid pain-mitigation and anti-inflammatory effects of local steroids make them a widely adopted option for various musculoskeletal complaints. While steroid injections can provide effective short-term reduction of shoulder pain, there is concern that injections might have negative effects on tendon health.

This study investigated the association between steroid injections for shoulder disease and rotator cuff tears.

Steroid injections can provide effective short-term reduction of shoulder pain.
Due to the greater risk of rotator cuff tear, clinicians should consider the potential negative effects associated with steroid injection for shoulder pain.


  • The authors collected data from a hospital related to patients with a diagnosis of shoulder disease. The patients were divided into two groups: those who received a steroid injection for shoulder pain, and those who did not.
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