What Does a Cortisone Shot Help with?

Understanding the Benefits of Cortisone Injections

Anyone who’s ever watched sports news or listened to sports radio programming has heard of a cortisone shot. It’s frequently brought up in terms of helping an athlete recover from an injury, especially a rather painful one to a joint. It’s also familiar to anyone in the general public who’s suffered from arthritis or any related condition that attacks the joints.

This treatment is typically recommended for people battling conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis or an acute injury that results in tissue or joint swelling. But just because you have a creaky knee when you wake up in the morning, you shouldn’t rush off to your primary care physician. It’s important understand exactly how a cortisone shot works and how it can help you.

What is a cortisone shot?

A cortisone shot is one of the most common treatments used by pain management professionals. It’s comprised of a powerful corticosteroid, and it’s injected into a patient’s body in the area of greatest need. That corticosteroid is a steroid hormone known as cortisol. This substance can be derived from what’s naturally produced in the adrenal glands of your body, or it can be artificially created to resemble that natural production.

What does a cortisone shot do?

It directly attacks and combats the inflammation in the painful joint with the goal of reducing it completely. It achieves this by suppressing the production of inflammatory chemicals in your joints, which in turns lowers your joint pain.

It’s this inflammation that’s the cause of the joint pain and the inflammation makes it hurt to simply use the joint.  As the bones interact with the inflamed cartilage or the bones rub against each other directly, it causes irritation and in turn inflammation or swelling.

What happens during a cortisone shot?

A trained physician will first determine exactly where you should receive the injection by discussing the history and physical examination of your complaint. Sometimes imaging such as MRI or X-ray is used to confirm the diagnosis. During the injection process, digital imaging technology helps guide the exact location the medicine will be delivered. Once the needle placement has been confirmed, the medicine is administered.

While the pain relief effects do vary for each patient, most people experience quality relief for 6 weeks to 3 months from a single injection. This can be longer depending on the cause of the pain and inflammation.

Are there any side effects to a cortisone shot?

While this treatment has been recommended and deemed effective for several decades, it is important to consider a few potential side effects. While less-common ones include injection site infection and joint infection, there are two big ones to consider:

  • Decreasing impact – Over time, your body will become less responsive to this treatment.
  • Tendon damage – Too much cortisone can weaken the tendons around the painful joint to the point they could completely rupture
  • Temporary increase in blood sugar level which is an important consideration for a diabetic patient
  • Weight gain-this is typically due to prolonged steroid use especially when prescribed an oral dose of prednisone for a long period of time
  • Insomnia-some patients due experience difficulty sleeping for maybe the first night or two after an injection of cortisone
  • Suppression of the immune system-this can be a concern for a patient who already suffers from a poor functioning immune system

A cortisone shot can be an extremely effective technique for decreasing the frequency and severity of the joint pain you feel from arthritis and related conditions. Call us today to see if a cortisone shot can help you get your life back in motion.

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