Cortisone injections

Cortisone, or corticosteroid, injections are used to relieve inflammation and pain in specific areas of the body. Corticosteroids are a class of medications that are very potent anti-inflammatory agents; cortisone is the most commonly used corticosteroid (in this case, the two are used interchangeably). The most common place that cortisone injections are injected is into the joints—the ankle, elbows, hips, knees, shoulders, spine, wrists, and the small  joints located in the hands and feet. There are side effects to be aware of when it comes to getting cortisone injections, and for this reason, many doctors limit the number of injections you can get in one year.

What Is In A Cortisone Injection?

As mentioned above, cortisone injections are based off corticosteroids, which are very powerful inflammation reducing agents. In addition to the corticosteroid in the injections, a local anesthetic is often present. The cortisone reduces the pain and inflammation over time while the anesthetic reduces the immediate pain from the shot.

What Are Cortisone Injections Used To Treat?
There are many conditions that require the use of cortisone injections because of the pain and inflammation associated with the condition. The following is a list of these conditions: a Baker’s cyst, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chondromalacia patella (damage to the cartilage behind the knee), De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (which is a painful inflammation of the tendons connected to the thumb), frozen shoulder, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Morton’s neuroma (painful condition affecting the ball of the foot), myofascial pain syndrome, osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, rotator cuff injury, sarcoidosis, tendinitis, and tennis elbow.

Side Effects, Risks, and Complications

Cortisone injections, like all medications and shots, come with a number of side effects, risks, and complications. They include death of the nearby bone (osteonecrosis), thinning of the nearby bone (osteoporosis), joint infection, nerve damage, the thinning of skin and soft tissue around the injection site, temporary flare up of pain and inflammation in the treated joint, the weakening or rupture of the tendon, and whitening or lightening of the skin around the sight of the injection. A complication that many doctors are worried about is the thinning of the cartilage in and around the joint. If you have diabetes, it is possible that the cortisone injection can temporarily increase blood sugar levels. Therefore, the number of cortisone shots in any given joint is usually limited by the doctor; this number varies based on the joint and the reason for the treatment. Although, as mentioned, the number can vary, the limit is usually 3 or 4 shot per year.

Preparing for the Appointment
There are only a few necessary steps to take before getting a cortisone shot. If you take blood thinners, you’ll need to stop taking the medication a number of days (as determined by your doctor) before the injection is administered, to reduce the risk of bleeding and bruising. There are also some dietary supplements that have a blood thinning effect, so speak with the doctor before so you know which medications and supplements to stop.

Getting the Injection
Getting the injection is quite a simple procedure, but it may come with some discomfort and slight pain. Often, the doctor will spray an anesthetic to the injection site to reduce the amount of discomfort. After the injection, your doctor will make sure you know how to properly protect the injection site, and this should be done for a day or two following. You can also apply ice to the injection site to reduce the pain from the shot. It is important to be watchful for signs of infection, like increasing pain, and extreme redness and swelling and last for more than 48 hours.

Last updated on Dec 17th, 2010 and filed under Drugs and Medications. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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