Cortisone Injection FAQ Factsby Caroline McKeighan, SPT

Cortisone Injection Facts: Things to Know

What is a cortisone injection?

  • A cortisone injection is a shot injected directly into the affected area of a patient for pain relief. The injection itself is typically comprised of a strong corticosteroid medication and local anesthetic intended to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Corticosteroids are used to suppress the body’s immune response, decreasing the inflammatory process at the location of irritation, thus reducing inflammation and pain.

What happens when you get a cortisone shot?

  • When someone receives a cortisone injection, there is often a temporary increase in pain and inflammation that can last up to 48 hours after the treatment is given.
  • Once the patient is past the 48-hour mark, pain and inflammation will typically begin to decrease.
  • While the effectiveness of this treatment varies person to person, the injections do provide varying degrees of relief for the majority of individuals who receive them and, while not permanent, the relief may last for several months.

What can a cortisone injection treat?

While the list of what these injections can help treat is rather long, here are a few things that cortisone injections have been shown to effectively treat.

  • Arthritis: osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tendinitis
  • Back pain
  • Gout

What are the risks?

  • Due to the nature of corticosteroids, there is a limit on the number of shots one can safely receive into a joint in a given year. Typically, the number of shots given in a one-year span is three or four.
  • The most common concern that doctors have is that repeated cortisone shots have the potential to create more damage to the body. With increased use and larger doses, potential issues could include cartilage and/or bone damage, nerve damage, tendon weakening, and thinning of soft tissue around the joint.

Question: A new alternative?

  • More recently, researchers have been studying platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections, and while it is still considered experimental, it’s something worth talking about. PRP is derived from the patient’s own blood: blood is drawn from the patient, platelets are extracted from the blood, and then the concentrated platelets are injected back into the affected joint.
  • Platelets are a component of blood that cause blood clots and their activation is a key factor in the body’s healing process. The idea behind this is that by injecting a high concentrate of platelets, growth factors in the body will then be stimulated and recruit a higher number of reparative cells that the body naturally produces. In simpler terms, this injection stimulates the body’s natural healing process in attempt to “self-heal” the problem area.

Connect with the experienced staff at Capital Area Physical Therapy to discuss how cortisone injections may provide pain relief. With 3 Capital Region physical therapy clinics located in Latham, Malta and Queensbury NY, we provide PT services to a large range of physical therapy patients in the Albany, Clifton Park, Saratoga, Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills, Wilton, Queensbury and Glens Falls regions. Make an appointment at any of our locations by calling 518-289-5242.