Read on to learn more about a cortisone injection (corticosteroid injection) of soft tissues and joints.
Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medications that are related to cortisone, a type of steroid. They are not pain relievers, they reduce the inflammation of small areas of the body such as bursa, tendon, and joint or inflammation widespread throughout the body such as rheumatoid arthritis, caused by a variety of diseases.
Corticosteroids can be taken by mouth, inhaled, applied to the skin, given intravenously (into a vein), or injected into the tissues of the body. Also, corticosteroids injections can cure diseases when the problem is skin or tissue inflammation localized to a small area, like bursitis and tendonitis.
Cortisone injections of soft tissues can be given simultaneously with local anesthetic through the skin over the area sterilized with a liquid solution, either alcohol or Betadine.
Cortisone injections of a joint are given similar to the soft-tissue injections. Sometimes, if there is an excessive amount of fluid within the joint, it is often removed first with a separate syringe prior to injection of the cortisone. Removal of the fluid rapidly relieves pain by reducing the pressure within the joint. Also, the fluid can be submitted to the laboratory for diagnosis.
The pain during both procedures is minimal and temporary, but the relief after receiving injections and/or removing fluid occurs rapidly.
The advantages of cortisone injections include the possibility to the analyzed fluid which is removed to determine what caused the joint to swell and more rapid and powerful relief than with traditional anti-inflammatory medications given by mouth.
Also, with injections can be avoided certain side effects that can accompany many oral anti-inflammatory medications. In people with arthritis, cortisone injections can by reducing inflammation, reduce joint pain and restore function to a body part immobilized by inflammation.
The disadvantages of cortisone injections are piercing the skin with a needle and pain associated with that.
Short-term complications are rare but include soreness at the injection site, local bleeding from broken blood vessels in the skin or muscle, shrinkage (atrophy) and lightening of the color (depigmentation) of the skin at the injection site, introduction of bacterial infection into the body, and aggravation of inflammation in the area injected because of reactions to the corticosteroid medication (post injection flare).
Long-term and frequent use with higher doses can cause potential side effects like thinning of the skin, weight gain, puffiness of the face, elevation of blood pressure and thinning of the bones (osteoporosis).
Cortisone injections must be used with caution in patients with diabetes because they can elevate the blood sugar and in people with the bleeding disorder, and avoided in people with active infections.