Soft Tissue Atrophy Related to Corticosteroid Injection: Review of the Literature and Implications for Hand Surgeons

J Hand Surg Am. 2018 Jun;43(6):558-563. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2018.03.004. Epub 2018 Apr 3.


Corticosteroid injections (CIs) are frequently used by hand surgeons to treat a wide range of pathology including de Quervain tenosynovitis and lateral epicondylitis. Although generally viewed as a benign modality, and a way to potentially avoid or postpone surgical intervention, common complications from CI should be considered and discussed with patients before the procedure. One such complication is local soft tissue atrophy and hypopigmentation after injection. We discuss the incidence of soft tissue-related adverse effects from CI, the pathophysiology and influence of different steroid preparations on soft tissues, and potential treatment options once atrophy has occurred.

Keywords: Corticosteroid injections; skin hypopigmentation; soft tissue atrophy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation
  • Atrophy / etiology*
  • Atrophy / surgery
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Hypopigmentation / etiology
  • Injections / adverse effects*


  • Glucocorticoids