Cortisone injections can be helpful for relieving pain but there are some things that you need to know.
Cortisone is a steroid hormone that is produced by your adrenal gland when you are in stressful situations. It is similar to cortisol, which is another stress hormone that you may be familiar with.
These and other hormones such as adrenaline are produced as part of your body's fight or flight response to stress. They can increase your heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure as as your body reacts to danger.
Cortisone will reduce inflammation; it also lowers pain and swelling that are part of the inflammatory response.
It is used to treat many different conditions. Cortisone injections can be given IV (intravenously), subcutaneously (under the skin), or intraarticularly (into a joint).
In some situations you may be given oral cortisone.
For the treatment of chronic pain, cortisone injections reduce pain by reducing swelling and inflammation.
Other similar synthetic preparations such as methylprednisolone and triamcinolone are also used and have the same effects as cortisone.
These medications can be injected into arthritic or inflamed joints to relieve pain. It is the chemicals involved in the inflammatory response that makes the nerves sensitive to painful stimuli.
By lowering inflammation and removing the inflammatory chemicals you can desensitize the nerves and reduce the pain that you feel.
The Problem is...
Reducing inflammation and relieving pain can make you feel better. However, the problem is cortisone injections do not fix the problem, and in many cases the inflammation will soon return along with the pain.
Cortisone injections can be more helpful in cases where something has caused a flare up of inflammation and pain.
Flareup of Acute Pain
If you are having a flare up of pain after a fall or after working in the garden all weekend cortisone injection can relieve your pain and inflammation and it will most likely not return until the next time you fall or work in the garden all weekend.
When your pain is located in one specific area such as your knee or your shoulder, your doctor may inject cortisone directly into the painful area.
In other situations when your pain and inflammation is more widespread oral cortisone may be given.
Cortisone injections are often used to treat:
• Arthritic joints
• Spinal Stenosis
Epidural Steroid Injection for Spinal Stenosis
Image thanks to Bruce Blaus via Wikimedia Commons
Cortisone, whether it is given orally or by injection, can be very effective for relieving pain and inflammation but there are risks, especially with long-term use.
Cortisone injections can be very helpful for relieving pain but there are side effects and risks that you need to consider before agreeing to any treatment.
Anytime you have an injection there is always a risk of bleeding, or infection, or damage to nerves. These risks can be minimized when injections are performed by trained personnel under sterile conditions.
Properly cleaning the injection site with alcohol or other cleaning solution, and then using new sterile equipment to perform the injection, greatly reduces the risk of infection.
Studying and understanding the anatomy allows your doctor, or other trained professional, to avoid damaging arteries, nerves, and other sensitive structures.
Cortisone and other steroid medications relieve pain by reducing swelling and inflammation.
Unfortunately, they also reduce your immune response. When using injection therapies this reduction is very short term and not generally a problem.
However, oral preparations that are given consistently for long periods of time can cause a more dramatic and long lasting suppression of your immune system.
Immune suppression can make you more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. It can also slow wound healing and make it difficult for you to heal even very small cuts and scratches.
• Osteoporosis(Weak bones)
• Hyperglycemia(High blood sugar)
• Weight Gain
• Weakened Ligaments and Tendons
• Mood Swings
• Skin Changes at the Injection Site
Most of these side effects are very manageable unless you have other conditions that are affecting your health.
•Poorly controlled diabetes can quickly become uncontrolled and dangerous with steroid treatments.
•If you already have osteoporosis steroids can increase your risk of fractures.
•If you are obese or overweight these medications can make the problem worse.
•If you have bipolar disorder or other mental health problems that are not well controlled these therapies may cause problems.
Cortisone and other steroid medications are very helpful for many people, and for some people they can be lifesaving, but you need to be aware of the risks and possible side effects.
If you have any concerns about how steroid treatments will affect you, you should make sure and discuss those with your doctor before starting any treatments.