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Steroids for Trigger Finger Less Effective in Diabetics

However, corticosteroid injections are still a low-risk, primary treatment option

MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Corticosteroid injections for trigger finger are not as effective in diabetics as in non-diabetics, and in fact, among diabetic patients, they may be no better than placebo, according to the results of a small study published in the December issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Keith M. Baumgarten, M.D., of The Orthopedic Institute in Sioux Falls, S.D., and colleagues randomized 30 diabetic patients with trigger finger in a double-blind fashion to receive either corticosteroids or placebo injections. Twenty-nine non-diabetic patients with trigger finger were also treated with corticosteroid injections. Treatment success was defined as resolution of symptoms such that surgical intervention was not required.

After one or two corticosteroid injections, more non-diabetic patients had a successful outcome than diabetic patients (improvement in 25 of 29 digits of non-diabetics compared to 12 of 19 digits of diabetics). Diabetics in both the corticosteroid and placebo groups were more likely than non-diabetics to require surgery. No significant difference in outcome was noted between diabetics in the treated and placebo groups.

"Given the absence of side effects in our patients, we recommend corticosteroid injection as a sound, low-risk primary treatment option for trigger finger in diabetic patients irrespective of their glycemic control," the authors write. "However, it should be emphasized that the efficacy of corticosteroid injection in diabetic patients is significantly decreased compared with that in non-diabetic patients."

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