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Pros And Cons Of Cortisone Injections

Pros And Cons Of Cortisone Injections
Pros And Cons Of Cortisone Injections

Common Conditions Cortisone Injections Are Used In Treating

Cortisone injections are successfully used to treat a variety or joint and soft tissues conditions in the body. Frequently cortisone injections are used to treat inflammation of a bursa referred to as bursitis, bursitis can occur in may areas of the body including the hip, knee, elbow, or shoulder. Inflammation of a tendon or tendon sheath is also treated by cortisone injections such as treating the common tennis elbow or the Achilles tendon complaints. They can also be used effectively in the management of arthritis of a joint or a frozen shoulder. Epidural injections in the spine, can be used when injecting cortisone into a specific location in the spinal canal of the back to help relieve back pain, neck pain and sciatica.

Benefits Of Cortisone Injections?

A cortisone injection can provide relief of localised inflammation in a specific area of the body and this effect can be more rapid and powerful than with oral anti-inflammatory medications whilst avoiding certain side effects of many oral anti-inflammatory medications such as irritation of the stomach.

Side Effects And Disadvantages Of Cortisone Injections?

  • Local infection would be the most significant side effect, especially in the use of a injection into a joint. However the risk of this is extremely low.
  • Some patients will find having a cortisone injection very painful and a small percentage of patients will develop a ‘steroid flare’ where their pain may worsen for a period of 2-3 days after having the injection. If this occurs then it can be managed with ice and simple pain killers till the flare up settles. Some patients may also experience short term local tenderness and bruising at the site of the injection.
  • Some patients may also experience a ‘steroid flush’ where they feel red, flushed and hot in the face.

Other reported side effects can include:

  • Shrinkage and lightening of the colour of the skin locally at the injection site.
  • Tendons can be weakened by corticosteroid injections administered in or near tendons and tendon ruptures as a result have been reported.
  • Some people will report feeling mildly anxious or agitated, or difficulty with sleeping for the first 1-2 nights after the injection.
  • Elevated blood sugar levels (this is a common side-effect in diabetic patients who will need to monitor their blood sugar levels after a cortisone injection).
  • A mild rise in blood pressure (hypertensive patients need to be made aware of this side effect so they can monitor changes after a corticosteroid injection).

How Often Can Someone Have A Cortisone Injection?

The frequency of administering cortisone injections is based on the reason for the injection and is determined on a case by case basis. Further injections aren’t necessary if the initial injection is curative and although injections are not generally continued on a regular basis sometimes a series of injections or subsequent injections might be necessary in conditions like osteoarthritis of the knee or trigger finger.
There is no standard absolute maximum number of cortisone injections that an individual may receive. However the risk of side effects increases as the number of injections increases. Meaning the risk to benefit ratio of each individual injection should always be considered prior to administering any cortisone injection regardless of the number of injections given prior.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Pros And Cons Of Cortisone Injections should consult his or her physiotherapist, sports medicine specialist, orthopedic surgeon or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.

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