What Is a Cortisone Shot?

What Is a Cortisone Shot?

Cortisone shots can potentially provide long-lasting relief from pain and inflammation in the joints.

Many injections can greatly reduce pain and inflammation caused by musculoskeletal injuries or chronic conditions such as arthritis, significantly shortening recovery timelines and providing lasting relief. One shot we particularly recommend to patients entails an injection of cortisone into a damaged joint. We’ll tell you what you need to know about this tried-and-true treatment for pain and inflammation in the joints.

What Is a Cortisone Shot?

A cortisone shot is an injection composed of a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic. Used to relieve pain and inflammation, it’s most commonly injected into a joint, often in the shoulder, hip, or knee. These shots are often one option in a comprehensive treatment plan for chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis, or rotator cuff impingements or tears.

How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Last?

A cortisone shot’s effectiveness depends on the severity of the patient’s condition. In most cases, pain and inflammation will marginally increase for about 48 hours following the injection, and will decrease precipitously thereafter. In some cases, a single injection can provide relief for as long as several months.

Generally, cortisone shots should only be given two times per joint per year. Repeated cortisone injections can damage the cartilage in the joint.

What Are the Side Effects of a Cortisone Shot?

Cortisone shots are typically safe in moderation, but since they infrequently lead to serious complications, they should be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Be sure to let your doctor know if you suffer from diabetes or other any other conditions affecting your blood sugar levels, as well as any medications that you are currently taking.

Most cortisone shots have some minor side effects, including a temporary uptick in pain and inflammation in and around the joint, and a thinning and lightening of the skin around the site of the injection. In some cases, however, they can result in a sudden spike in blood sugar if you’re diabetic and have poorly controlled blood sugar levels. .

What If the Cortisone Shot Doesn’t Work?

Cortisone shots provide a source of temporary relief from inflammation and pain. They will not solve the underlying problem, and pain may gradually return as the shot’s effectiveness subsides. As a result, cortisone shots should be administered as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan that may include physical therapy or surgery.

Fortunately, our team of orthopedic specialists at Comprehensive Orthopaedics has several years of experience in treating joint problems. Regardless of your specific condition, we’ll work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that provides lasting relief from your symptoms.

Injectable Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are potent drugs used to reduce inflammation in the body’s tissues. They are different from anabolic steroids. These are illegally used by some athletes to increase muscle tone.

Corticosteroids can come in several forms: pills, liquids, creams, ointments, medicines sprayed into the nose, and injectable medicines.

Photo of syringe and needle

Corticosteroid injections can treat a variety of skeletal, muscular, and spinal conditions. Some of these injections can be performed by your health care provider during a routine clinic visit; others need a referral to a pain or other specialist.

Here are some of their most common uses:

  • Osteoarthritis. People with osteoarthritis often develop pain and inflammation in their joints. An injection of corticosteroids into the affected joint can give temporary pain relief for several weeks or months. After the treatment, your health care provider may recommend avoiding strenuous activity for at least 24 hours for the best results.
  • Low back pain. Lower back pain from ruptured disks, spinal stenosis, and some other conditions may be treated with injectable corticosteroids to provide some relief. Lumbar radiculopathy is pain in the buttocks, hips, or legs that comes from a pinched nerve in the lower back. This type of pain can often be treated with corticosteroid injections near the pinched nerve. Sometimes other drugs like local anesthetics are given with the corticosteroid.
  • Cervical radiculopathy. This is neck pain that radiates to the shoulder, arm, or hands. It happens when the vertebrae in the spine move closer together or a disc bulges or ruptures, pinching a nerve in the neck. Injecting corticosteroids near the pinched nerve may reduce swelling and relieve pain. This gives the nerve some time to heal.
  • Bursitis and tendonitis. Bursitis is a common condition that happens when the fluid sac that normally cushions spaces between bones, muscles, and skin becomes inflamed and painful. Tendonitis is a common condition in which the tendons around muscles and bones become inflamed. The areas that are commonly affected are the elbow, knee, shoulder, wrist, hand, and hip. Injected corticosteroids can reduce the inflammation. But you must be careful because repeated steroid use can cause the tendon to weaken or even rupture.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition happens when a nerve in the wrist becomes compressed or pinched, causing pain, numbness, tingling, and possibly weakness in the hand. Injecting a corticosteroid into the wrist can give immediate, though temporary, relief. An anesthetic like lidocaine may also be given with the steroid.

Cautions about corticosteroids

Corticosteroids can have a number of side effects, including high blood sugar levels. For this reason, people with diabetes are advised to tell their health care providers about their condition before taking any steroid medicines.

Using injectable corticosteroids for a long period of time is not suggested because of additional side effects. These include osteoporosis, cataracts, delayed growth, stomach ulcers, skin atrophy and depigmentation, and high blood pressure. You may experience short-term side effects like local pain or infection at the injection site. Your health care provider will usually limit your total number of corticosteroid injections to 3 to 4 a year.

If you are considering taking corticosteroids to treat a muscular or skeletal condition, be sure to talk with your health care provider about all the benefits and risks.

Botox

Botox. At CompOrtho? You read that correctly! Known for smoothing out wrinkles on the face, Botox has been approved by the FDA to treat chronic migraine headaches in adults. The FDA says Botox injections have been shown to be effective in the prevention of migraines, which are debilitating headaches that cause intense pulsing or throbbing pain and affect about 12% of Americans.
Also, spasticity is a condition involving overactive muscle contractions. It can be described as hyperactivity of reflexes that normally protect against sudden stretching of a muscle. This condition can interfere with mobility and performance of activities of daily living. Over time, spasticity may lead to contractures, which involve loss of range of joint motion. Botox therapy is used to treat patients with spasticity that restricts function or causes pain. Dr. Vashi here at CompOrtho performs these injections! Call today to learn more! 262-764-5595.

PRP injection

Ever hear of Platelet-rich Plasma injections, otherwise known as PRP? It’s a newer type of injection that you may have heard sports announcers talk about on tv. Famous athletes have used PRP to recover from injuries, or even surgery much faster as compared to conventional methods. Basically, the doctor takes some of your own blood, spins it in a machine to get all the best properties out of it, and injects it back into the affected area such as a tendon, ligament, or joint. The doctors here at CompOrtho perform this injection both in the office, and during surgery. Call today to get more information and to see if you are a candidate! 262-764-5595.

Epidural steroid injeciton (ESI)

An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a minimally invasive procedure that can help relieve neck, arm, back and leg pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves. ESI may be performed to relieve pain caused by spinal stenosis, spondylolysis or disc herniation. The goal of the injection is pain relief; at times the injection alone is sufficient to provide relief, but commonly an epidural steroid injection is used in combination with a comprehensive rehabilitation program to provide additional benefit. Dr. Vashi and Dr. Didinsky both perform this procedure at the Wisconsin Specialty Surgery Center. Make your appointment today! 262-764-5595.

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