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What is cortisone? Cortisone is ...

Posted Sep 13 2008 1:23am

What is cortisone?

Cortisone is a naturally occuring steroid in your body that’s produced by the adrenal gland. Your body produces it under stress. When it’s needed, it’s released into the blood stream and is relatively short acting.

Synthetic cortisone closely matches your body’s own production. The main difference is that manufactured cortisone can be injected into the area rather than put into the blood stream. It’s also designed for a much longer duration (days instead of minutes).

How does the cortisone injection help?

Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. It’s not a pain reliever. Any pain that disipates when a cortisone injection occurs is because the inflammation has been reduced. Cortisone can be taken with other pain medications to work best with limited side effects.

Synthetic cortisone shots are designed to work directly on the affected area within minutes for a period of weeks.

Why would somebody need cortisone injection?

Any type of problem where there is inflammation that is causing pain can be a potential cantidate for a cortisone shot. Some of the more common problems that individuals have that might require a cortisone shot would be but not limited to:

Shoulder Bursitis
Arthritis
Trigger Finger
Tennis Elbow
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Will it hurt if I get a cortisone injection?

Depending on a few factors like the location of the injection, if fluid needs to be removed prior to the shot, the type of needle used and the skill involved on the person giving the injection, it can be somewhat uncomfortable to mild. Local numbing agents can be used to dull the area where the shot will be given.

What are the side effects of a cortisone shot?

1- A “Cortisone Flare” is where the injected cortisone crystallizes. There can be some pain associated with this that is worse than the original pain. If this occurs, it usually lasts a day or two and is best treated with ice.

2- Possible whitening of the skin in the area of injection. Temporary but more noticible if you have darker skin.

3- Infection which is very rare. That usually avoided in a clean envrionment with a professional.

4- Diabetics can have a slight increase in their blood sugar levels which should be monitored closely.

And as always, if you are allergic to any of the medications (local numbing agents, etc) that can cause complications.

How many cortisone shots can I get?

While there is no limit to the number of shots one can receive, most common is about 3 shots a year. There’s really no limit. There are practical limitations to a cortisone shot. If you give more than 3, it may not be working, in which case does it make sense to continue? Animal studies have shown that multiple and continued cortisone shots have shown some weakening in the cartilage and tendon areas. Repeated and continual injections can increase the risk of this potential side effect. That is one of the main reasons why many physicians will limit the number to 3 or less.


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