Hip Injections vs. Placebo: The Surprising Truth

 By  Shane Dowd, CES, CMP

Salutations, fellow detectives!

I'm Sherlock Dowd, your guide through the maze of medical research.

Today, we're hot on the heels of a subject that's been shaking up the medical community.

Yes, indeed, we're about to reveal the unexpected truth about hip injections for osteoarthritis.

This fascinating study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2020, and... it's a doozy!

So, don your detective gear and brace yourself:

The game is afoot!


What the Study Reveals

The study, conducted by Aaron Gazendam and his team, is titled: 

'Intra-articular saline injection is as effective as corticosteroids, platelet-rich plasma and hyaluronic acid for hip osteoarthritis pain.' 

Quite a mouthful, isn't it?

It's kind of like ordering a "triple-shot, extra foam, half-caf, no-whip latte."

But don't worry; we're going to break it down in simple terms.


A Complex Title Simplified

Before we dive into the study, let's talk about hip osteoarthritis.

It's a common condition, especially among older adults, and it can cause significant pain and disability. 

Various treatments are available, including physical therapy, medication, and, in some cases, surgery.

One of the treatment options that has gained popularity in recent years is intra-articular injections, which involve injecting medication directly into the joint.

So, what did this study do?

Well, it compared the effectiveness of various intra-articular injectable treatments for hip osteoarthritis. These included corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid, platelet-rich plasma, and a placebo in the form of a saline injection.

Now, you might be wondering: "Why include a saline injection?"

Well, in medical research, a placebo is used as a control to compare the effects of the actual treatment.

The placebo should have no therapeutic effect, and in this case, the researchers used a saline injection as the placebo.

The Battle of Hip Injections vs. Placebo

Now, here's where things get interesting. The results were, to say the least, surprising.

No intervention outperformed the placebo saline injection for pain outcomes at 2–4 and 6 months. The same was true for functional outcomes.

In other words, in the battle royale between hip injections and a placebo – the placebo (aka NOTHING) was just as good as the expensive injections. 😳

This alone should make you think twice about stabbing yourself in the hip, but if that wasn't enough, you should also know about the other potential risks of intra-articular injections.

Short-term complications of these injections can include things like:

  • septic arthritis
  • risk of infection, or
  • allergic reactions.

Also, studies have shown that corticosteroids, the stuff that's often in these injections, can be toxic to articular cartilage. Your cartilage is the smooth tissue at the ends of your bones that helps your joints move easily.

When you inject corticosteroids in there, it can be like pouring soda on a car engine - it might not cause problems right away, but it can lead to serious damage over time.

In fact, some studies have found an increased risk of worsening joint degeneration in patients who received intra-articular corticosteroid injections.



So, what's the conclusion here?

Well, it's not to scare you away from all medical treatments. But it encourages you to be informed, ask questions, and consider all your options.

It's like going to a buffet - you wouldn't just grab the first dish you see; you'd check out all the options before making your choice. Especially if some of the dishes (injections) have more side effects than other dishes).

And remember, every person is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another. So, always consult with your healthcare team before deciding about your treatment.

We hope this video/article has given you some food for thought.

If you or a loved one is dealing with hip osteoarthritis, it's important to talk with several experts. By consulting several people, you can be clear about your options and choose the best option.

If you want to talk with me personally to see how our FAI Fix program for hip pain or 1-on-1 "VIP" coaching services could help you, please get in touch with me directly at GotROM.com/VIP.

And remember, you're just 1 step away from building or re-building your perfect body.



About The Author

Shane Dowd, CES, CMP, is the owner/founder of GotROM.com. He is also a sports performance & mobility coach specializing in injury prevention and flexibility for athletes.



How To 10X Your Flexibility

An Insider's Guide to Accelerated Gains

The Ultimate Guide to Runner's Knee

How To Fix Knee Pain (FAST!)

The Black Book of Flexibility Secrets

6 Secrets of The World's Most Flexible Athletes

The Ultimate Guide to Neck Pain

How To Fix Neck Pain (FAST!)

The Beginners Guide to Foam Rolling

5 Exercises for Less Pain & Better Posture

The Ultimate Guide to Plantar Fasciitis

A 30-Day Plan to Fix Foot Pain

The Ultimate Guide to Hip Impingement

How To Fix Hip Impingement Without Surgery

The Ultimate Guide to Sciatica

How To Fix Sciatica Pain (FAST!)

The Ultimate Guide to Frozen Shoulder

How To Fix Frozen Shoulder (FAST!)