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Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are a common treatment option for individuals dealing with inflammation, pain, and swelling anywhere in the body. These injections deliver powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected area, providing relief and promoting healing. Corticosteroid injections can be highly effective in managing symptoms; your doctor at Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine will discuss all the potential risks and benefits with you when recommending this course of action for your symptoms.

What are Corticosteroid Injections?

A corticosteroid injection is also known as a cortisone shot, a steroid injection, or a steroid shot. It is a frequently recommended treatment option for conditions that cause inflammation and pain in the body.

These injections contain a type of steroid medication called corticosteroids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, injected directly into the treatment site. Corticosteroids are manufactured drugs that mimic cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands. These drugs temporarily suppress the immune system’s activity in order to reduce inflammation, thereby also alleviating pain.

Conditions Treated with Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are used to treat a variety of conditions that involve inflammation and pain. Corticosteroids are injected directly into the site of the problem to reduce swelling, decrease pain, and improve mobility in the affected areas.

Some of the conditions that are regularly treated with corticosteroid injections include:

  • Arthritis: Corticosteroid injections are often used to treat arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This treatment reduces inflammation in the joints, alleviates pain, and improves joint function.
  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed or irritated due to overuse or injury. Corticosteroid injections can help reduce inflammation in the affected tendon, relieve pain, and promote healing.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae (small sacs filled with fluid) that cushion the joints. Corticosteroid injections can be used to reduce swelling and pain associated with bursitis.
  • Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain that occurs when the plantar fascia (the band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes) becomes inflamed. Corticosteroid injections can reduce inflammation in the plantar fascia and alleviate heel pain.
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: Corticosteroid injections may be recommended for individuals with rotator cuff injuries, such as tendonitis or partial tears. Reducing the inflammation in the shoulder joint typically relieves pain and improves the range of motion.
  • Sciatica: Sciatica is a condition that involves compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which causes radiating pain from the lower back down one leg. Corticosteroid injections reduce or eradicate sciatic pain by reducing the inflammation around the affected nerve root.

Corticosteroid Injection Overview

A cortisone shot is a widely recommended treatment for conditions that cause inflammation and pain. By suppressing the immune system’s activity, corticosteroids reduce inflammation and pain at the injection site, improving mobility and providing relief for various problems.

The procedure for receiving a corticosteroid injection is typically quick and relatively simple. Your healthcare provider will first clean the skin around the injection site and may use a local anesthetic to numb the area. The steroid medication is then injected directly into the inflamed tissue or joint using a thin needle. You may experience some temporary discomfort during the injection process, but this usually subsides quickly.

It’s important to note that while corticosteroid injections can provide significant relief from pain and inflammation, they are not always suitable for long-term use due to potential side effects such as weakening of tissues and bones. If your doctor recommends this treatment for you, they will fully outline the risks and benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

These steroid shots are typically used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may also include physical therapy, rest, exercise modifications, or other treatments, depending on your specific condition.

How Long Does a Steroid Shot Last?

The effectiveness of cortisone shots varies from person to person, typically lasting from a few weeks to a few months. For acute inflammation after an injury, the treatment should provide relief until the body fully heals. However, if you have chronic inflammation, you may notice symptoms returning over time. If you observe new or worsening inflammation, consult your healthcare provider for further evaluation and management.

How Long Does it Take for a Cortisone Shot to Work?

Individual people respond differently to corticosteroid injections, so the length of time it takes for a steroid shot to work will vary. Your symptoms of pain and inflammation might not get better immediately, and it could take up to a week for the shot to work fully. If more than 10 days have passed and you still don’t feel better, it’s important to discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Recovery and Side Effects from Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are commonly used to treat various conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis. Your recovery will depend on the type of problem being treated. But there are some general tips for recovering from corticosteroid injections:

  • Rest the affected area to allow the medication to work.
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Elevate the injected limb, if possible, to promote healing.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers for any discomfort.
  • Follow up with your healthcare provider for further care and monitoring.
  • Watch for potential side effects and contact your doctor, if needed.
  • Gradually return to normal activities to avoid re-injury. Recovery time varies, so follow your doctor’s guidance for the best outcome.

Potential Side Effects

While these injections can provide relief from pain and inflammation, they can also have side effects, and the risk of this increases with higher doses and frequent use. These side effects include cartilage damage, bone death, joint infection, nerve damage, facial flushing, temporary pain flare-ups in the joint, increased blood sugar levels, tendon weakening or rupture, osteoporosis, thinning of the skin and soft tissue, and skin lightening around the injection site. Due to concerns about cartilage damage, doctors usually limit the number of cortisone shots a person can receive in a joint, depending on factors like the joint involved, the diagnosis, and other considerations.

Consult with your healthcare provider to determine if corticosteroid injections are an appropriate treatment option for you based on your individual needs and medical history. But if you suffer from any side effects or have any concerns about your steroid injection treatment, speak to your doctor about how to best manage your situation.

Contact our team at one of our Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine locations today to discuss whether a cortisone shot would be beneficial for your symptoms. We have offices conveniently located throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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