Cortisone injection side effects

Cortisone injection side effects

Cortisone injections are an effective way to alleviate pain and inflammation caused by orthopaedic conditions such as arthritis, sports injuries and soft tissue injuries.

While cortisone injections can provide significant relief, they are usually a temporary measure while we treat the underlying condition.

As with any treatment, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects of cortisone injections. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits and risks to help you make an informed decision about your treatment options.

The benefits of cortisone injections

Cortisone injections are widely used in orthopaedic medicine thanks to their ability to rapidly reduce inflammation and provide effective pain relief. They can help with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and acute injuries such as sprains or tendonitis.

By directly targeting the affected area with a potent anti-inflammatory steroid, cortisone can help decrease swelling and discomfort, enabling you to move more freely and participate more fully in rehabilitation exercises.

For many patients, the relief provided by cortisone injections can be profound. You can expect to feel an improvement within a few days, which can last for several weeks or even months. This temporary relief can make a significant difference to your quality of life, allowing you to perform daily activities with less pain and discomfort.

Understanding the risks and side effects

While cortisone injections are generally very safe, they are not without potential side effects. Mr Shah will go through all the relevant risks with you in detail during your consultation.

Short-term side effects

Some patients may experience side effects shortly after receiving a cortisone injection.

Pain and swelling at the injection site: It’s not uncommon for patients to feel increased pain or swelling at the injection site for a few days following the procedure. This reaction, known as a cortisone flare, typically resolves on its own.

Skin changes: Some patients may notice changes in skin colour or thinning of the skin at the injection site. These changes are usually temporary but can be more pronounced in certain individuals.

Facial flushing: A sensation of warmth or redness in the face and chest may occur shortly after the injection. This typically lasts a few hours and resolves without intervention.

Temporary increase in blood sugar levels: Diabetic patients may experience a temporary increase in blood sugar levels following a cortisone injection. It’s important for these patients to monitor their blood sugar closely and consult with their healthcare provider if they have concerns.

Long-term side effects

When cortisone injections are used frequently or over a long period, there is the potential for more serious side effects.

Joint damage: Repeated cortisone injections can lead to cartilage damage and weakening of tendons and ligaments. For this reason, we sometimes limit the number of injections a patient can receive in a particular joint.

Bone thinning (osteoporosis): High doses of cortisone over a prolonged period can contribute to bone thinning, increasing the risk of fractures.

Hormonal effects: Because cortisone is a steroid, it can affect the body’s hormone balance, potentially leading to weight gain, high blood pressure and mood changes.

Balancing the benefits and risks

Cortisone injections can be a valuable tool for managing pain and inflammation, but it’s essential to use them with care. Mr Shah will work closely with you to determine the most appropriate plan for your condition.

This might involve combining cortisone injections with other treatments such as physical therapy, lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes knee or hip surgery, to address the underlying cause of the pain and inflammation.

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