Sunday, August 4, 2019

What? $3000 For A Steroid Jab!

Straits Times 030819, page B5, home section
Wow, that's very expensive for a steroid/ cortisone injection! What shocked me was that some doctors actually charged more as a result of the court case against an orthopaedic surgeon whose patient complained to the Singapore Medical Council after she developed side effects. 

On the flip side, some doctors stopped giving the steroid/ cortisone injections after that case.

As an athlete or as someone who is actively exercising, you definitely do not want to have a steroid/ cortisone injection. There are high chances of degenerative changes in the surrounding area where the  steroid is injected.

Here's a true story when I was working at the Singapore Sports Institute (formerly Singapore Sports Council). I've never written about this before and I guess it's time to put it on record. Back then, I used to treat the badminton players frequently and followed them on training trips and competitions.

In 2006-2007, Ronald Susilo was having right elbow pain, his playing arm. He was subsequently injected with steroids (cortisone) to help with the pain so he could train and compete.

Tragedy struck at the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand. He tore a forearm muscle while playing at the Games. I was tasked with accompanying him back to Singapore for a visit to the surgeon to repair it.

I've accompanied Ronald for all his sporting surgeries. His shoulder in 2004, Achilles in 2005 and right forearm in 2007. These were his words to the surgeon, "Gino knows my body better than I, he's been around for all my operations."

As usual I was waiting outside the operating theater for Ronald when they operated on his forearm. The first words the surgeon said to me when he came out of the operating theatre was, "We found cortisone still in his arm." My interpretation was that he meant too much steroid/ cortisone had been injected into Ronald's forearm. That probably caused the muscle to tear.

Granted, there would definitely be occasions where a steroid/ cortisone injection is needed.  However, speaking from experience, if you're an athlete or participating in sports regularly, please reconsider if your doctor suggests a steroid/ cortisone injection. There are definitely other ways to treat your pain/injury besides getting a steroid/ cortisone injection.

Here's a picture of Ronald after his left Achilles tendon rupture in 2005 at the World Badminton Championships. Kudos to him for coming back to play after each and every badminton career threatening surgery.

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