What To Expect From A Cortisone Shot
In order to help alleviate pain or inflammation, your doctor may prescribe a cortisone shot. Most commonly administered to the joints of the body (such as the elbow, hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist, or spine), a cortisone shot is a combination of corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic.
Corticosteroids mimic the cortisone that is naturally produced in your body. However, while natural cortisone is not very long lasting, synthetic cortisone is engineered to be much stronger and to endure for a longer period of time. This provides you a greater amount of relief for an extended period of time.
Corticosteroids are not pain medications. They are powerful anti-inflammatory medications that can offer quick relief to inflammation. Usually, the reduction in the inflammation results in pain relief, which is a welcome side effect of the injection.
While corticosteroids can be taken through a variety of methods, one of the quickest acting – and therefore most commonly used – is injection. Cortisone injections can be done in a doctor’s office, which makes them highly convenient. The full benefit of the cortisone shot can usually be felt within a few days, with results lasting for up to several weeks.
While cortisone shots can work wonders, as with any medical procedure, they do carry an element of risk. One of the most common side effects is what is known as the “cortisone flare,” when the pain experienced after the shot is worse than before the shot. This is due to the cortisone crystallizing. The cortisone flare usually only lasts a day or two after the shot is administered and can be treated by icing the area of the shot. It is also common for the area around the shot to whiten in appearance.
More serious side effects are rare, but do occasionally occur. These include infection of the shot area and increase in blood sugar for diabetic patients. Long-term complications (such as thinning of the bones or other bone damage, acne, high blood pressure, and weight gain) can occur due to high dosage and/or frequent administrations of the cortisone shot. For this reason it is recommended that you have a cortisone shot no more frequently than once a year, or based on your doctors recommendations.
Cortisone shots can provide great relief to those suffering from joint pain and inflammation. Talk to you doctor to see if a cortisone shot is right for your body and your situation.