Cortisone Injections (Corticosteroid Steroid Injections) are commonly used to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions. They are thought to influence the cells involved in inflammatory responses to disease and injury, which often results in a significant and almost immediate relief of pain and stiffness.
WHAT CAN CORTISONE INJECTIONS BE USED TO TREAT?
Shoulder tendonitis and bursitis
Acromioclavicular AC joint (shoulder) pain
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
ITB friction syndrome / iliotibial band bursitis
HOW LONG WILL THE CORTISONE INJECTION TAKE TO WORK?
The cortisone is combined with local anaesthetic (LA), therefore the patient often experiences immediate relief of symptoms due to the effect of the LA. The LA wears off in a couple of hours and as a result the patient often experiences a return of the pain or even a slight worsening, known as ‘post-injection flare-up’. An increase in pain can last for a few days and is best treated with icing of the area. The pain relief associated with the cortisone part of the injection can take from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. The timing of the pain relief depends on how long the inflammation takes to settle down following the injection.
HOW LONG WILL THE CORTISONE INJECTION WORK FOR?
The duration of pain relief associated with a cortisone injection is dependent on the condition it is being used to treat. In certain conditions such as an acute tendonitis of the thumb / wrist caused by a single episode of overuse (e.g. painting your garden fence for 10 hours without a break), one cortisone injection can permanently relieve the pain. In other chronic conditions, such as knee arthritis, the pain relief may be immediate and significant, but the pain is likely to return gradually, due to the underlying wear and tear.
WILL I NEED MORE THAN ONE CORTISONE INJECTION?
This is also dependent on the condition being treated. It is common to need repeat injections for chronic conditions such as knee arthritis. For many conditions, one injection will be enough to resolve the problem or reduce the pain to a manageable level, so that the patient is able to perform exercises to further reduce pain and disability.
HOW MANY CORTISONE INJECTIONS CAN I HAVE?
There is no hard and fast rule that says how many cortisone injections can be given over time. However, cortisone injections can have side effects (see below), and repeated use of cortisone injections should be done with caution. Most doctors use the rule of no more than 3 injections in one area within one year. It is common to try a second injection, even if the first provided only partial or short-term relief. If there is only short-term relief following the second injection, a third is unlikely to help and therefore the doctor would advise against it and would discuss alternative treatment options.
HOW OFTEN CAN I HAVE A CORTISONE INJECTION?
There is no universal agreement regarding the minimum period between injections in the same area, but 6 weeks is used as a general rule of thumb.
ARE THERE ANY POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS TO CORTISONE INJECTIONS?
Cortisone injections are widely used in the treatment of joint and soft tissue conditions. They are very safe to perform. Side effects tend to be very rare or very minor. Our doctor will discuss all of the potential side effects with you prior to administering the injection. There are certain conditions that would increase the risk of side effects, so our doctor will discuss your medical history in detail before performing an injection. If it is not appropriate to offer you a cortisone injection, other treatment options will be discussed.
DO YOU OFFER SPINAL JOINT INJECTIONS?
No, we do not offer spinal joint injections. It is recommended that these are performed by spinal surgeons under x-ray / ultrasound guidance.
ARE CORTISONE INJECTIONS THE SAME AS ANABOLIC STEROIDS USED BY BODY BUILDERS?
No. Cortisone is a very powerful anti-inflammatory injection. It helps to settle pain, swelling and inflammation. It does not have the same side-effects as anabolic steroids and does not help to build muscles. Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances related to testosterone. They have a muscle building effect. They have quite marked side effects with repeated use.
Our team are happy to discuss any further questions / concerns you have regarding a cortisone injection before you book an appointment.