Cortisone Injection (cont.)
Catherine Burt Driver, MD
Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Corticosteroid (cortisone) injection of joints and soft tissue facts
- What are corticosteroids?
- Is a cortisone injection merely a pain reliever or temporary remedy?
- For what conditions are cortisone injections used?
- What are the advantages of cortisone injections?
- What are the disadvantages and side effects of cortisone injections?
- Are there special side effects that can occur with cortisone joint injections?
- Are there special advantages in using cortisone injections for joint inflammation (arthritis)?
- How are cortisone injections of soft tissues given?
- How are cortisone injections of a joint given?
- "I've always heard that cortisone injections are painful? Are they?"
Are there special side effects that can occur with cortisone joint injections?
Cortisone injections into a joint may have side effects in addition to those described above. Unique side effects of joint injections involve injury to the joint tissues, particularly with repeated injections. These injuries include thinning of the joint cartilage, weakening of the ligaments of the joint, increased inflammation in the joint (arthritis) due to a reaction to a corticosteroid that has crystallized, and introduction of infection into the joint.
Are there special advantages in using cortisone injections for joint inflammation (arthritis)?
Cortisone injections into a joint can be beneficial in rapidly reducing joint pain while restoring function to a body part immobilized by inflammation, such as an arthritic knee or elbow. This might be particularly important in certain circumstances, such as the gainful employment of a family breadwinner or someone who lives alone. Despite potential and infrequently reported adverse reactions as described above, it is generally felt that low, intermittent doses of corticosteroids pose little risk of significant side effects.
Cortisone injections into a joint also can decrease the inflammation in diseased joints throughout the body when the corticosteroids are absorbed from the joint into the circulation.
How are cortisone injections of soft tissues given?
The medical professional administering the injection draws up the corticosteroid into a syringe. A local anesthetic (such as lidocaine) may simultaneously be drawn into the syringe. Next, the area to be injected is selected. Typically, the skin over the area to be injected is sterilized with a liquid solution, either alcohol or Betadine.
Sometimes, the area is topically anesthetized by rapid cooling using a spray such as ethyl chloride. The needle of the syringe then is inserted into the tissue to be injected and the solution is ejected from the syringe into the area of inflammation. The needle then is withdrawn, and a sterile bandage is applied to the injection site.
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