Cortisone Injection (cont.)

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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 (tendinitis such as tennis elbow), and a joint (arthritis). Knee osteoarthritis, hip bursitis, painful foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tendinitis, and many other conditions may be treated with cortisone injections. Injections of cortisone and an anesthetic such as lidocaine are sometimes used to confirm a diagnosis. For example, if pain in the buttock and groin improves after a cortisone injection in the hip, the pain is caused by hip arthritis rather than arthritis in the low back. Epidural injections in the lumbar spine (lumbar epidural) are cortisone injections inserted into a specific location in the spinal canal of the low back by a specialist under X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy). These injections may help relieve neck pain, back pain, or sciatica. Systemic corticosteroid injections are used for more widespread conditions affecting many joints or the skin, such as allergic reactions, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the advantages of cortisone injections?

When a joint is swollen, joint fluid may be removed before cortisone is injected. If fluid is removed, it can be analyzed with laboratory testing to determine what caused the joint to swell. This is a big advantage as it is a powerful and accurate diagnostic test.

A distinct benefit of a corticosteroid injection is that the relief of localized inflammation in a particular body area is more rapid and powerful than with traditional anti-inflammatory medications given by mouth, such as aspirin. A single injection also can avoid certain side effects that can accompany many oral anti-inflammatory medications, notably irritation of the stomach. Cortisone injections can be administered easily in the doctor's office. Other advantages include the rapid onset of the medication's action, dependability, and minimal side effects.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/24/2015

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