Pros and Cons of Cortisone Shots for Joint Pain
Cortisone shots are somewhat common for joint pain and they can provide a measure of relief for stress and strains or for chronic conditions such as arthritis. Cortisone shots typically include a measure of corticosteroid medication as well as an anesthetic, which helps the muscle to heal itself and which dulls the pain from the nerves around it.
A Cortisone Shot Is Often Used For:
- Baker’s cyst, which is an accumulation of fluid behind the knee.
- Bursitis, an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac, called a bursa, that is located between the tendon and the skin.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, a pinching of a nerve that runs up the hand and wrist.
- Chondromalacia patella, commonly called runner’s knee, a softening and degeneration of the cartilage around the knee.
- Frozen shoulder, or inflammation around the shoulder that does not allow it to move properly. There may be any number of causes of frozen shoulder, from injury to overexertion to untreated arthritis or degeneration of the muscles.
- Gout, a form of arthritis that often occurs in the big toe. Crystals form around the joint and cause pain.
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
- Lupus, a chronic autoimmune condition that causes inflammation.
- Myofascial pain syndrome, or face pain that is caused by muscle inflammation.
- Plantar fasciitis, an irritation and swelling on the bottom of the foot.
- Pseudogout; like gout, this is when crystals form around the joints.
- Psoriatic arthritis, an arthritis that is associated with psoriasis of the skin.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Rotator cuff injury
- Sarcoidosis; swelling in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin, or other tissues.
- Tennis elbow
There are many considerations to think about before you decide that a cortisone shot or regular shots are right for you. As with all medication, there can be side effects with corticosteroids and you don’t want to rely on them alone rather than addressing a long-term or serious condition. Your access to cortisone injections is typically limited because of the potential side effects, and your doctor will want to discuss permanent treatment options for any recurring problems or for injuries and defects.
Consider the Pros and Cons of Cortisone Treatments
One of the most obvious benefits of cortisone shots is that they often provide relief from the pain of arthritis and other conditions. They also stimulate the muscles and joints to heal themselves and provide strength for the joint.
Risk factors for cortisone shots include joint infection, nerve damage, death of nearby bone, softening and thinning of the skin around the injection site, temporary inflammation of the joint from the shot itself, rupture or weakening of the tendons, and whitening of the skin around the injection site.
Many doctors believe that repeated cortisone injections cause a deterioration of the cartilage in a joint, so many limit the number of shots they administer to a patient. Osteoarthritis patients or those with other non-inflammatory conditions are typically limited to four total cortisone shots per joint, per year. For those with rheumatoid arthritis, they may be limited to three cortisone shots per joint, per year.
Because the shots may thin your blood, you need to be prepared if you take blood thinning medications or have a risk of anemia. Certain diets have a blood thinning risk, so these need to be considered if you are scheduled for cortisone shots.
Cortisone shots are not like typical shots but are administered right into the joint. This means you may suffer discomfort for a day or two after the injection. Be prepared for bed rest or to keep pressure off the site of the injection.
If you have questions about cortisone or any questions about joint pain, speak to your doctor.