Cortisone Shots

1 What are Cortisone Shots?

Cortisone shots are a type of injection that are used to relieve pain or inflammation in a particular part of your body.

They are most commonly given into joints, such as your elbow, ankle, knee, shoulder, spine, and wrist. Even the small joints in your hands and feet may benefit from cortisone shots.

Cortisone shots usually include a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic. In many situations, cortisone shots can be given in your doctor's office.

The number of shots you receive in one year, however, is limited because of the potential side effects from the medication.

2 Reasons for Procedure

There are many reasons to decide to undergo a cortisone shots procedure, including:

3 Potential Risks

The following risks are associated with cortisone shots:  

  • The death of a nearby bone (osteonecrosis).
  • Nerve damage.
  • Joint infection.
  • The temporary flare of pain and inflammation in the joint.
  • Tendon weakening or rupture.
  • Thinning of skin and soft tissue around the site of the injection.
  • Thinning of a nearby bone (osteoporosis).
  • Whitening or lightening of the skin around the site of the injection.

Limits on the number of cortisone shots. There is a certain degree of concern that a repeated use of cortisone shots may lead to deterioration of cartilage inside a joint.

For this reason, doctors typically limit the number of cortisone shots into a joint.

In general, cortisone injections must not be administered more often than every six weeks and usually not more than three or four times a year.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

Required preparation for your cortisone shots procedure includes:

You may need to stop taking any blood-thinning medication for several days before your cortisone shot provided you take them.

This is done to reduce the risk of bleeding or bruising. Certain dietary supplements possess the blood-thinning effect.

Your family doctor will help you coordinate what medications and supplements you must avoid before taking a cortisone shot.

5 What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your cortisone shots.

During the cortisone shot. Your doctor may ask you to remove your clothing and change into a hospital gown. After that, you will be positioned in a way that permits your doctor to easily insert the needle.

The area around the injection site is then cleaned. An anesthetic may also be applied to numb the area in which the needle will be inserted.

In certain cases, you doctor may use an ultrasound or a type of X-ray known  as a fluoroscopy to watch the progress of the needle in your body to make sure that it will be placed in the right spot.

You will likely feel some pressure when the needle is inserted. Always tell your doctor if you feel uncomfortable. The medication will then be released into the injection site.

Typically, cortisone shots include a corticosteroid medication to help relieve pain and inflammation over a period of time and allow an anesthetic to provide immediate relief.

After the cortisone shot. Some individuals experience redness and a feeling of warmth of the chest and the face after a cortisone shot has been administered.

If you have diabetes, a cortisone shot might temporarily raise your blood sugar levels.

After your cortisone shot, your doctor may ask you to do the following:

  • Protect the injection site for a day or two. For example, stay away from heavy lifting if you received your cortisone shot on your shoulder.
  • Also, you must stay off your feet when you can if you received your cortisone shot in your knee.
  • Apply ice to the site of the injection as needed to relieve the pain.
  • Watch for any signs of infections, including increasing pain, redness and swelling that lasts for a period more than 48 hours.

6 Procedure Results

Cortisone shots results usually depend on upon the initial reason for the treatment.

These shots commonly lead to a temporary flare in pain and inflammation for up to a period of 48 hours after the injection.

Following that, you should experience a reduction in pain and inflammation at the site of the injection.