A new study has indicated that using steroid injections for tendon problems like tennis elbow could do more harm than good.
It found that injections reduced pain for the first few weeks, but made the condition worse in the long term.
University of Queensland researchers analysed the treatment of tendinopathy in more than 2,600 patients from 41 previous studies.
In the study, Australian researchers looked at past-randomised trials comparing steroid injections into the tendon with placebo, which is equivalent to no treatment at all.
When analysing the trials, they assessed the clinical efficacy of the treatments in the short term, intermediate and long term.
They also analysed different areas of tendinopathy, like rotator cuff tendinopathy (shoulder) and jumper's knee.
"Our systematic review challenges continued use of corticosteroid injections by providing strong evidence that they are worse in the long term than are most conservative interventions for tendinopathy," the BBC quoted the authors as concluding.
This was particularly true for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis, known as tennis elbow.
The research found that in treating tennis elbow, corticosteroid injection had a large effect on reduction of pain compared with placebo in the short term, from three to six weeks.
But treatment with injections over a longer period, from four to six months up to 12 months, was not found to be beneficial.
In fact, researchers found that it made the pain from tennis elbow worse.r Alexander Scott and Dr Karim Khan from the University of British Columbia in Canada, recommend exercise as the best way to cure tendinopathies.
The Lancet has published the findings.