Athletes seeking the muscle buildingand anti-inflammatory properties of these medications have been injecting steroids.
These are synthetic chemicals derived from the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone, for 60 years or longer.
But anabolic steroids, and their close cousin corticosteroids, have real medical applications that can help users with pain and counteract the muscle wasting effects of a serious illness.
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The word “steroid” is the chemical name for any substance with three rings of connected atoms.
Steroid is a class of hormone that includes vitamin D, cholesterol, estrogen, cortisone and testosterone.
Steroid hormones are naturally produced in the body and are necessary for regulating functions as vital as heart rhythms and breathing.
Anabolic steroid injections are a synthetic or laboratory produced compound that mimics the effects of these natural hormones.
Anabolics promote the growth of skeletal muscles. They also increase development of male sexual characteristics, commonly termed an androgenic effect.
Corticosteroids are drugs closely related to the naturally produced hormone cortisol. Cortisol is produced in the body’s adrenal gland and is anti-inflammatory.
Laboratory made corticosteroids mimic this effect and the practical application includes treatment of cortisone or prednisone to prevent conditions like allergies to bee stings, where the compound can be necessary to prevent serious, life-threatening allergic reactions.
Anabolic steroids and corticosteroids are equally effective when taken in oral tablet form or by injection.
Steroids may be given systemically, meaning ingested in pill form so the effects extend throughout body, or locally through an injection to the exact place where a problem exists.
Medications were designed to help humans achieve better living through relief of physical illnesses and improvement of their physical wellbeing.
Anabolic steroids and corticosteroids, provide substantial relief of many ailments from back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis, to more serious diseases like anemia, AIDS and cancer.
Steroid injections for carpal tunnel help stop the painful inflammation in joints and tendons that prevent people from leading productive lives.
Steroid injections stop the tingling and weakness associated with this illness, allowing full or greatly increased functionality of the hands.
Steroid injections for hair loss have proven successful in treating alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that manifests itself dermatologically, causing patchy hair loss.
Standard and successful treatment of this disorder includes a shot of cortisone directly into the site.
While no permanent treatment for this disease exists, people living with this disorder swear by injections of corticosteroids.
Steroid injections for back pain, called epidural steroid injections, or ESIs are a standard treatment providing short-term relief.
It is often combined with a physical therapy regimen.
The back functions as the basic architecture of the human body and those living with back pain are often completely debilitated because of its foundational connection to so many other body systems.
But an ESI can create long lasting relief from suffering, allowing the inflamed tissue to return to normal.
Steroid injections in pregnancy can prevent premature birth. If a baby is at risk of being born too early, giving the mother steroids before birth can help the baby’s lungs develop more quickly.
Babies born before 37 weeks are at serious risk because their lungs have not fully developed. Studies show that just one treatment can have a significantly beneficial effect.
Steroid injections in shoulder muscles eases repetitive motion injuries. For example, rotator cuff disorders caused by tendinitis or bursitis can be treated with an injection directly to the problem site.
This pain relieving injection can allow for physical therapy that would be too painful to attempt without the steroid.
Sports and activities where your arms are often above your head, such as house painting or tennis and swimming, often cause this disorder.
People who have been seriously injured and have scarring from an accident often suffer from self-image issues related to the scarring, especially if the scar is exposed.
But steroid injections for scars are one way to shrink a hard mass of keloids, or “hard” scars. This is often times the most effective and least invasive treatment available.
More than 60 years ago, professional bodybuilders noticed the incredible effects that anabolic steroids had toward enhancing their physical development and performance.
Athletes can build bigger muscles and grow stronger with an on/off cycle of anabolic steroids.
Over the years, the sport of bodybuilding has evolved into the mentality where bigger is better, and competitors work hard to outsize each other with bigger, leaner, smoother muscle mass.
The results achieved by even moderate steroid use help these athletes achieve a level of muscle strength and size that is simply not possible without them.
Steroid users say that the benefits of careful steroid use to supplement a diet, exercise and recuperation regimen far outpace any risks associated with these powerful drugs.
They can also be beneficial for sciatica, in the spine, for scars before and after, for pain and for alopecia.
The incredible benefits of steroids cannot be discussed without also sharing the risk of side effects, which could be minimal or severe.
It is important to note that each individual user of steroids will need to weigh the risk verses benefit of these important medications.
It is also important to realize that your individual bodily response will vary depending upon genetics, your age and overall physical conditioning and many other factors.
The side of effects of anabolic steroids could include:
Many steroids are obviously well tolerated by the human body; otherwise no physician would ever subscribe them.
Too, performance athletes, who make their living with their bodies, would never seriously jeopardize their “money maker” by taking a compound that would put them physically at risk.
With that stated, each individual will have to weigh their pain levels, their ability to function, as well as their own personal and professional goals, before taking steroid injections.