Cortisone Injection - Side Effects

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What side effects (if any) did you experience with your cortisone injection?

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What are the disadvantages and side effects of cortisone injections?

Disadvantages of cortisone injections are the necessity of piercing the skin with a needle as well as potential short- and long-term side effects. It should be emphasized that though each of these side effects is possible, they usually do not occur.

Short-term cortisone injections complications are uncommon but include

  • shrinkage (atrophy) and lightening of the color (depigmentation) of the skin at the injection site, introduction of bacterial infection into the body (such as a joint infection), local bleeding from broken blood vessels in the skin or muscle,
  • soreness at the injection site,
  • aggravation of inflammation in the area injected because of reactions to the corticosteroid medication (post-injection flare).

Increased pain after the injection is typically due to a post-injection flare because true allergies to cortisone are very rare. Tendons can be weakened by corticosteroid injections administered in or near tendons. Tendon ruptures as a result have been reported. Facial flushing may occur in up to 40% of cases but lasts only briefly. Sweating and insomnia are uncommon side effects. Nerve damage is a very uncommon side effect.

In people who have diabetes, cortisone injections can elevate the blood sugar level. In patients with underlying infections, cortisone injections can suppress somewhat the body's ability to fight the infection and possibly worsen the infection or may mask the infection by suppressing the symptoms and signs of inflammation. Generally, cortisone injections are used with caution in people with diabetes and avoided in people with active infections. Cortisone injections are also used cautiously in people with a bleeding disorder.

Long-term complications of corticosteroid injections depend on the dose and frequency of the injections. With higher doses and frequent administration, which increases total systemic exposure to the corticosteroid, potential side effects include

  • thinning of the skin,
  • easy bruising, weight gain,
  • puffiness of the face,
  • acne (steroid acne),
  • elevation of blood pressure,
  • cataract formation,
  • thinning of the bones (osteoporosis),
  • a rare but serious type of damage to the bones of the large joints (avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis).
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See what others are saying

Comment from: Techgirl, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 27

I went to the (emergency room) ER for the first time ever this past Saturday with pain that I thought was a kidney stone. After test, it showed I had a cyst on my right ovary. On Monday, I still had lots of pain and my gynecologist sent me back to the ER for re-evaluation. This time a leaking cyst on my right ovary. White blood count was up and running fever off and on. I was sent home with pain medicines and told it would resolve itself. I have to work and I was in the bed for 4 days. Finally I went back to work where I stood on my feet for 9 hours and when I got home I was miserable plus my fever had shot back up. Can't they surgically remove a cyst! I don't get paid if I don't work!

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Comment from: Lisa, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 17

My life has been terrible ever since I received my cortisone injection in my tailbone. This was given to me 3 years ago and I have been in horrible pain ever since that day. I now have to be under the care of a pain manager as I cannot sit for more than 10 minutes at a time, the only time I get any relief is when I sleep. I am only 51 years of age and every day I hope to just die so I can get out of this misery that I am living in. I don't suggest anyone to get this injection, I now feel as if someone took a bar and hammered it upwards from my tailbone up into my lower back.

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