This injection works on several levels and is most noted for reducing inflammation and relieving pain. The effects of the injection usually last from several weeks to three months and provide a window of opportunity for physical therapists to assist with healing of the damaged joint or tendon.
Cortisol is a natural hormone produced by the adrenal gland. It is released to counteract the effects of stress or damage in the body. Synthetic injectable cortisone mimics natural mechanisms and can be delivered straight to the affected area. Cortisone, although a steroid, should not be confused with performance enhancing “anabolic” steroids that are banned in many sports. Some cortisone injections are prohibited in athletes subject to drug testing.
Relatively high concentrations of cortisone can be administered safely with minimal side-effects, allowing anti-inflammatory properties to work to their full potential. When used in conjunction with local anaesthetic, pain is also temporarily relieved, which can also help accurately determine the exact region and cause of pain.
Corticosteroid injections have a role in treating inflammatory problems such as bursitis, impingement, tendonitis, osteoarthritis and inflammatory joint disease.
The risks of a corticosteroid injection are very low and will be discussed with you by you doctor. Generally the main risk of concern is the introduction of infection, which is extremely low at less than 1 in 10,000.
The procedure is relatively non-invasive and doesn’t involve additional surgical intervention. The doctor may choose to use ultrasound guidance. If local anaesthetic is used, then this will wear off over the next hour. The injection area can often be irritable for a day or two. Usually you are able to walk or drive afterwards without issue. You will normally be asked to rest the affected area for several days afterwards. Some areas may need more strict rest for a longer period depending on the condition being treated and your doctor will discuss this with you prior to the injection.