An Orthopedic Specialists’ Guide to Cortisone Shots

cortisone shots
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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 New York Bone and Joint has 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.

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