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OBJECTIVE: Intra-articular corticosteroid injections (IACIs) provide temporary symptom relief in osteoarthritis (OA). This meta-analysis investigated the effects of recurrent IACIs at 3 months and beyond. DESIGN: We searched Medline, Embase and Cochrane from inception to January 2021 for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of patients with OA who received recurrent IACIs compared with other injectables, placebo or no treatment (primary outcomes: pain, function). Mean differences (MDs) with 95% confidence intervals were reported. RESULTS: Ten RCTs were included (eight knee OA (n = 763), two trapeziometacarpal OA (n = 121)). Patients received between 2 and 8 injections, varying by trial. Trials compared recurrent IACIs with hyaluronic acid (HA), platelet-rich plasma (PRP), saline or orgotein (follow-up 3-24 months). Greater improvements in pain, function and QoL at 3-24 months were noted for the comparators than with IACIs, with comparators demonstrating an equal or superior effect, or the intervention effect attenuating over follow-up. Recurrent IACIs demonstrated no benefits in pain or function over placebo at 12-24 months. No serious adverse events were recorded. No studies reported on time-to-future interventions, risk of future prosthetic joint infection or other adverse events associated with subsequent joint replacement. CONCLUSIONS: Recurrent IACIs often provide inferior (or non-superior) symptom relief compared with other injectables (including placebo). Other injectables (HA, PRP) often yielded greater improvements in pain and function up to 24 months post-injection. Existing RCTs on recurrent IACIs lack sufficient follow-up data to assess disease progression, time-to-future interventions and complications following these.

Original publication




Journal article


Osteoarthritis cartilage

Publication Date



Injections, Intra-articular, Meta-analysis, Osteoarthritis, Patient reported outcome measures, Steroids, Systematic review