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Steroid tablets

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Steroid tablets may help in the short term if you have a frozen shoulder, but there hasn't been enough research to know for certain. [27] (To read about frozen shoulders, see What is shoulder pain?) Steroids are drugs that help to reduce inflammation. They're similar to chemicals your body makes naturally. But they're not the same as the anabolic steroids that some bodybuilders use.

One commonly used steroid is called prednisolone.

One study looked at whether taking steroid tablets eased shoulder pain. [27] It found that after three weeks:

  • 96 in 100 people who took the steroid tablets were better

  • 48 in 100 people who took a dummy treatment (a placebo) were better

  • People taking the steroid tablets could also move their shoulder more freely.

But another study found that taking steroid tablets didn't make much difference, although they may have helped people get better slightly faster.

The studies that looked at steroid tablets didn't show a long-term benefit. [27] In one study, after six weeks there was no difference between the people who were treated with steroids and people who took a placebo. This could mean that the benefits of steroids wear off after a few weeks. Or it might be that people who don't have treatment get better on their own eventually, and catch up with the people who take steroid tablets.

Taking steroid tablets for a long time can cause serious side effects, such as weak bones or high blood pressure. But the people in the studies didn't take the tablets for very long. You're unlikely to get serious side effects if you're only taking steroid tablets for a few weeks. However, some people find that taking steroid tablets affects their mood after just a short time. [28] Rarely, people can become so depressed or anxious that they think about suicide. If you get any worrying symptoms while you're taking steroids, see your doctor straight away.

Glossary

high blood pressure

Your blood pressure is considered to be high when it is above the accepted normal range. The usual limit for normal blood pressure is 140/90. If either the first (systolic) number is above 140 or the lower (diastolic) number is above 90, a person is considered to have high blood pressure. Doctors sometimes call high blood pressure 'hypertension'.

placebo

A placebo is a 'pretend' or dummy treatment that contains no active substances. A placebo is often given to half the people taking part in medical research trials, for comparison with the 'real' treatment. It is made to look and taste identical to the drug treatment being tested, so that people in the studies do not know if they are getting the placebo or the 'real' treatment. Researchers often talk about the 'placebo effect'. This is where patients feel better after having a placebo treatment because they expect to feel better. Tests may indicate that they actually are better. In the same way, people can also get side effects after having a placebo treatment. Drug treatments can also have a 'placebo effect'. This is why, to get a true picture of how well a drug works, it is important to compare it against a placebo treatment.

For more terms related to Shoulder pain

Citations

For references related to Shoulder pain click here.
Last Updated: August 23, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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