I've been having problems with chronic Achilles tendonitis. I'm a semi-professional ballroom dancer. I really need my feet and ankles to be pain free. My doctor has suggested a steroid injection. Are these safe?

The use of steroid injections for tendonitis has come under fire many times. Some studies show it helps the tendon heal faster. Others report problems with soft tissue thinning and even rupture. Sometimes the area gets infected, too.

Steroid injections can be very safe if performed carefully. Doctors can use an imaging tool called fluoroscopy to guide the injection to the right spot. This also allows the doctor to inject just the right amount of steroid. The drug goes into the space around the Achilles tendon.

A recent study from the University of Virginia reported low-volume steroid injections for Achilles tendonitis are safe. The needle must be carefully inserted into the correct space. Fluoroscopy makes it possible for the doctor to see exactly where the needle and injection are going.