Also known as hydrocortisone or steroid injections, cortisone injections are a common treatment used for a range of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders. The substance within the injection is known as a corticosteroid, which shouldn’t be confused with anabolic steroids. Corticosteroids are an-inflammatory medications, that are a man-made version of two hormones normally produced by the adrenal glands. When they are taken in higher doses than your body usually produces, corticosteroids reduce redness and inflammation. These injections can be administered in several different ways including into a joint, a muscle, the blood, or the spine. Here’s what you need to know before getting a cortisone injection.
Cortisone injections have been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to:
- Arthritis (rheumatoid and osteoarthritis)
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal herniation
- Herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Unspecified back pain
It is important for patients to be aware that cortisone injections are not a cure. They are a treatment that helps to manage the symptoms associated with your condition or injury. This means that your injections will be part of a wider treatment plan that is designed to provide long-term relief. Some of the other elements that may be included in this plan could include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as more breaks from a screen, changing footwear, or sleeping on a new mattress.
- Losing weight, which can reduce stress on joints and your spine.
- Physical therapy exercises, which involve stretching and strengthening muscles and soft tissues to relieve pain and improve your mobility.
While they can be very effective, too many injections of cortisone over a short period of time have been shown to cause damage to the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage at the injection site. For this reason, you will be given a very strict schedule of injections and your provider won’t want to deviate from this. If you are having your cortisone injections ahead of surgery, you will likely need to wait at least 12-16 weeks after your last injection before your surgeon is happy to operate on the affected area.
Contrary to popular belief, the steroid injection itself doesn’t start working immediately, and the instant relief that some patients experience is usually a result of the local anesthetic provided at the time that the injection is given. The steroid begins working around 2-7 days following the injection. However, exactly how long the effects will last can vary between some patients. Some will achieve relief from their pain and other symptoms for just a few days, while others can experience a reduction in their symptoms lasting weeks or even months.
If you have been recommended to undergo cortisone injections and you would like further information about preparing for this treatment, please speak to our dedicated team who would be happy to advise you.