Cortisone Injection in the Shoulder: What to Expect

Our shoulder is a complicated joint, and it happens to be one that involves almost any movement. It’s hard to do anything without moving your shoulder. When it becomes injured for any reason, it is both frustrating and painful. Luckily, cortisone shots can help. Cortisone injection in the shoulder: what to expect.

How Do Cortisone Injections Work?

Cortisone injections can help reduce pain and inflammation in many parts of the body but are particularly helpful in the shoulder.

Our body has two glands known as adrenal glands which produce the hormone cortisol. This hormone is released during times of stress and has many other functions, including suppressing inflammation. It is a corticosteroid which means it’s a steroid hormone produced by our adrenal glands.

Cortisone is the man-made version of cortisol. It’s a synthetic corticosteroid, and it mimics the effects of cortisol and treats many inflammatory conditions.

What to Expect During and After a Cortisone Injection in the Shoulder

Prior to the injection, avoid taking blood thinners in case there could be bleeding. Also refrain from taking any supplements with blood thinning properties. Alert your doctor if you have had a temperature of 100.4 or more in the last two weeks.

Expect the injection site will be cleaned and a topical numbing agent or an injection will be used to reduce pain at the site. Pain from the inflammation can be relieved within 3 to 5 days for some. This continues for weeks or months on a case-by-case basis. Patients are normally restricted to no more than 3 injections in a year.

After receiving the injection you may experience redness, a warm chest feeling, and higher blood sugar levels in diabetics. It is best to monitor your glucose for several days.

Your doctor may recommend the following after a cortisone injection:

  • Avoid heavy lifting
  • Rest your shoulder
  • Apply ice to the injection site
  • No heating pads
  • No bathtubs, hot tubs, or whirlpools for several days, but showers are OK
  • Monitor the injection site for any signs of an infection

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Cortisone Injection?young woman with pain in shoulder

Cortisone injections may lessen the need for surgery when used with a rehab program.

They improve joint motion and function so you can do exercise in a rehab setting safely and in comfort.

A cortisone injection reduces the inflammation in the shoulder or other joint, and that reduces the pain.

No general anesthesia is needed.

Cortisone injections treat various shoulder issues like bursitis and tendonitis.

Contact shoulder specialist Samuel S. Koo, MD, MPH at (425) 823-4000 if you are having discomfort in your shoulder. You may alternatively request an appointment through our secure online form. Right in our office in Kirkland, we can evaluate whether a cortisone injection will relieve the pain. Dr. Koo sees patients from Bellevue, Redmond, Seattle, and the surrounding areas.