Are Cortisone Injections Safe?

Are Cortisone Injections Safe?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

You are feeling severe pain in your shoulder or nagging arthritis in your hip continues to make walking difficult – these are the times when you wish you had a pain reliever that can take the pain away immediately. That’s exactly how fast cortisone injections work. Keep in mind, though, that they are not pain-relieving medications per se, but anti-inflammatories.

The way that cortisone injections work is by quickly reducing inflammation at the injection site. When the inflammation goes down, so does the pain associated with the swelling. For example, if you are experiencing bursitis in your shoulder, a cortisone injection can relax the muscles, reduce inflammation and instantly take away your pain.

These injections are ideal for athletes or people suffering from chronic orthopedic issues like arthritis.

Cortisol vs. Cortisone

Your body naturally releases cortisol when it is under stress. The hormone is released by the adrenal gland and helps to control your mood and your body’s response to being stressed.

Cortisone, on the other hand, is the synthetic steroid version of the same chemical, and when injected into a specific area of injury, it can reduce the stress at the injection site.

Cortisone Shot Considerations 

Cortisone shots are safe but should be provided by a trusted orthopedic physician. The injections should also be used sparingly.

The overuse of cortisone could result in adverse effects such as: 

  • Repeated cortisone shots in fatty tissue may thin out or atrophy. For example, patients with plantar fasciitis who receive cortisone injections in the feet might experience more pain while walking if repeated injections cause fat tissue of the foot that acts as a cushion while walking to thin out too much.
  • Too many cortisone shots into a damaged tendon could cause the tendon to rupture.

It is important to be mindful of how much cortisone your body can handle before overuse becomes a problem. Be honest and upfront with your doctor when discussing treatment and with future injections you may need or be considering.

Also, there is a possibility of side effects after a cortisone shot. Many people report feeling flushed or high blood pressure, while others report no side effects at all. You should also be prepared for some pain at the injection site, the possibility of infection (as with any injection), and possible changes in skin color.

While a cortisone shot could be a huge help to those experiencing pain from an injury, it is not considered a long-term solution. 

Talk to your orthopedic specialist about any joint pain you’re experiencing, and whether the use of cortisone shots may be appropriate for you. Call Watauga Orthopaedics today at (423) 282-9011 to make an appointment with one of our orthopedists. You can also request an appointment online.