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).
Return to Cortisone Injection

See what others are saying

Comment from: Shar, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 21

Four days ago I fell down wooden stairs landing on my tailbone. The pain was extreme and immediate. I started blacking out but somehow managed to drag myself up the stairs and into the recovery position. My phone was nearby, but I had trouble ringing the emergency services as I kept blacking out. When I did, I just lay there till they came. They tried to get me to sit up which was impossible and took me to hospital where x-rays showed a badly broken coccyx. Strong painkillers were administered and I was told it would take two months to recover from it. Because I live alone they kept me in overnight. Friends and neighbors have been wonderful, bringing food, walking the dog, and vacuuming. I feel very lucky that the fracture wasn't centimeters higher up which could have meant loss of the use of my legs.

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Comment from: LaurieJ, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: August 31

I have had tinnitus since childhood. First I had meningitis, then constant ear infections; I now have 3 distinct sounds, crickets, ringing and static sound, which are worse in my left ear. My tinnitus 'clicks' when I am getting an ear infection. These noises have gotten worse over past several months and I was just diagnosed with a pineal gland tumor. I have tried every medicine and yes, some dubious snake oil cures, to no avail.

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