Table of Contents
- Corticosteroid (cortisone) injection of joints and soft tissue facts
- What are corticosteroids?
- What types of doctors administer cortisone injections?
- 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 into a joint given?
- How long does it take to recover after a cortisone injection?
- Are cortisone injections painful?
- How long does a cortisone injection last?
- How often can someone receive cortisone injections?
- How many cortisone injections can someone receive?
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, frozen shoulder, and many other conditions may be treated with cortisone injections. Certain skin disorders, such as alopecia (a specific type of hair loss), can be treated with cortisone injections.
Corticosteroid injections given in the shoulder may cure localized soft-tissue inflammation in the shoulder, such as bursitis or tendinitis. Cortisone injections of the shoulder may be used in conjunction with physical therapy to treat rotator cuff syndrome and impingement syndrome.
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 back pain and sciatica. Epidural injections can also be given in other areas of the spinal canal to relieve upper back and neck pain.
Systemic corticosteroid injections are used for more widespread conditions affecting many joints or the skin, such as allergic reactions, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. These injections are usually given intramuscularly, into a large muscle group such as the gluteus muscles in the buttocks, or into the deltoid muscle in the shoulder. The corticosteroid is then absorbed into the blood and travels through the bloodstream to treat the inflammation. Systemic corticosteroids can also be administered intravenously to treat more severe widespread inflammation.
McNabb, J.W. A Practical Guide to Joint & Soft Tissue Injection & Aspiration. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005.
Ruddy, S., Harris, E.D., Sledge, C.B., Kelley, W.N., eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 2013.