Just as you may take ibuprofen for general aches and pains, a cortisone shot acts as a local anti-inflammatory for a painful body part. The key difference is that the cortisone acts mainly at the site of injection.
Information about cortisone shots
Cortisone shots are typically injected into joints, such as knees, elbows and, of course, shoulders. They comprise of corticosteroid medication, which are steroid hormones. The body actually naturally produces cortisone in the cortex of your adrenal glands. However, to help direct the hormones to the site of pain more efficiently, man-made cortisone shots are given. The type of corticosteroids in cortisone shots are glucocorticoids, which are anti-inflammatory.
After your shot
You may experience some aching and soreness at the site of injection for a day or two. The cortisone can take up to one week to work. The results of the injection can last several months for many people and not at all for a few. Since it is an anti-inflammatory, it will not correct any structural defects and the relief from symptoms are usually temporary.
Is cortisone safe?
This is a commonly asked question. All procedures come with some risk. However, a cortisone injection is a very safe procedure with a proven track record. The key is to avoid multiple injections over the course of a short period of time. The amount of injections you can receive are restricted to prevent complications, so Dr. Koo is trained at giving proper dosages.
I have diabetes. Are there any precautions for me?
If you have diabetes, a cortisone shot may temporarily elevate your blood sugar levels. Be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels more closely for a week after your shot.
Do I need to take any precautions after the shot?
Protect the injection area for a day or two. For instance, if you received a cortisone shot in your shoulder, avoid heavy lifting. Apply ice to the injection site as needed to relieve pain.
Side Effects of Cortisone
Local cortisone injections may cause some side-effects. Some people experience redness and a feeling of warmth in the chest and face after receiving a cortisone shot. This is usually temporary and will go away quickly.
Infection – The medical literature suggests this occurs in less than 1 in 20,000 cases.
Skin changes – Skin atrophy & pigment loss may occur around the injection site. This is generally a minor cosmetic problem and occurs in less than 1:100 patients. Patients with dark skin are more likely to experience this issue.
Fat Atrophy – Cortisone can cause fat cells to atrophy. If you receive a shot in a location with adipose tissue, you may notice dimpling of that area.
Avascular necrosis – When injected into a joint, the cortisone can result in avascular necrosis. Avascular necrosis is a condition in which the bone loses it’s blood supply and slowly dies. This serious complication is rare but can occur.
If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment in the Seattle, WA area for a cortisone shot, contact Dr. Samuel Koo at (425) 823-4000.