Cortisone Injection (Corticosteroid Injection)
of Soft Tissues & Joints

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What are corticosteroids?

Corticosteroids are a class of medications that are related to cortisone, a steroid. Medications of this class powerfully reduce inflammation. They are used to reduce the inflammation caused by a variety of diseases. Cortisone is one type of corticosteroid. For the purpose of this review, "cortisone" is used interchangeably with "corticosteroid."

Corticosteroids can be taken by mouth, inhaled, applied to the skin, given intravenously (into a vein), or injected into the tissues of the body. Examples of corticosteroids include prednisone and prednisolone (given by mouth), methylprednisolone sodium succinate injection (Solu-Medrol) (given intravenously), as well as triamcinolone, Kenalog, Celestone, methylprednisolone (Depo-Medrol), and others (given by injection into body tissues). This article describes the role of cortisone injections into the soft tissues and joints.

Is a cortisone injection merely a pain reliever or temporary remedy?

Corticosteroids are not pain relievers. They reduce inflammation. When corticosteroids relieve pain, it is because they have reduced inflammation.

While the inflammation for which corticosteroids are given can recur, corticosteroid injections can provide months to years of relief when used properly. These injections also can cure diseases (permanently resolve them) when the problem is tissue inflammation localized to a small area, such as bursitis and tendonitis. They can also cure certain forms of skin inflammation.

For what conditions are cortisone injections used?

Cortisone injections can be used to treat the inflammation of small areas of the body (local injections), or they can be used to treat inflammation that is widespread throughout the body (systemic injections). Examples of conditions for which local cortisone injections are used include inflammation of a bursa (bursitis of the hip, knee, elbow, or shoulder), a tendon (tendonitis), and a joint (arthritis). Knee arthritis, hip bursitis, painful foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tendinitis, and many other conditions may be treated with cortisone injections. Epidural injections in the lumbar spine are cortisone injections inserted into a specific location in the spinal canal of the low back by a specialist under X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy). Systemic corticosteroid injections are used for more widespread conditions affecting many joints or the skin, such as allergic reactions, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.


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