When you have inflammation, cortisone injections are designed to relieve the symptoms in a specific part of your body. You can get them for your ankle, hip, knee, spine, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. But, cortisone shots have a variety of side effects that limit the number you can receive in a year. What are the potential side effects, and what should you expect when you get an injection in the shoulder?
What conditions do cortisone injections treat?
Cortisone injections can treat many conditions that cause muscles or joints to become inflamed. The most common condition that these shots treat is inflammatory arthritis, but other conditions may include:
- Back pain
- Rotator Cuff Disease
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Adhesion Capsulitis
Side Effects of Cortisone Injections in the Shoulder
The larger your dose of cortisone, the higher the risk that you may experience a side effect. In addition to pain and discomfort, some side effects may include:
- Temporary facial flushing
- Temporary flare of pain and inflammation
- Temporary increase in blood sugar
- Cartilage damage
- Death of nearby bone
- Joint infection
- Nerve damage
- Tendon weakening or rupture
- Whitening or lightening of the skin around the injection site
Preparing for a Cortisone Shot
Because the cortisone injection may cause bleeding and bruising, you should avoid taking blood thinners several days before your appointment. This may also apply to any dietary supplements that also have blood-thinning effects. You should talk to your doctor about what medications or supplements you should avoid before getting the injection. In addition, you should tell your doctor if you’ve had a temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or more in the past two weeks.
Getting a Cortisone Injection
Once you’re ready to get the shot, the doctor will position you in a way to easily administer the injection. Then, the injection site will be cleaned, and anesthetic spray may be used to numb the area where the needle is inserted. In some cases, your doctor may also use digital imaging like fluoroscopy to watch the needle’s progress and place it in the right spot.
Once the medication has been released into the injection site, you will receive corticosteroid medication to help relieve pain and inflammation. You may also receive an anesthetic to provide immediate pain relief. Once that’s been completed, the doctor will send you home to recover.
What to Expect After a Cortisone Injection
For some patients, they’ll feel immediate relief after a couple of hours, but for others, it may take a few days. How quickly the cortisone shot relieves your pain, is dependent on the severity of your pain. If you’ve had chronic shoulder pain, then it may take several weeks before you experience continued relief.
If you receive an anesthetic, you’ll experience numbness for the next 24 hours. During the first one to two days, flares in the treated joint may occur. These flare-ups typically decrease after a couple of days. After the cortisone shot relieves your pain, you should expect relief to last for several weeks to a few months – and in some cases longer.
After getting the injection, you may experience some side effects like redness, a warm chest, and higher blood sugar levels – make sure you monitor your glucose levels if you have diabetes. To reduce side effects and provide relief, your doctor may suggest:
- Protecting the injection area for a few days
- Avoiding heavy lifting
- Resting the body part that was injected
- Applying ice to the injection site to relieve pain
- Avoiding heating pads
- Avoiding bathtubs, hot tubs, or whirlpools for a few days – however, showers are acceptable
- Monitoring the injection site for signs of infection
If your joint pain returns after a few weeks or a couple of months, you may request to get another cortisone injection. Best practice typically restricts patients from getting more than three shots a year, but you can talk to your doctor about your options and what treatments work best for your condition.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re experiencing pain that can be relieved by cortisone injections, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.