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: Rachel, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 25

I had a steroid shot in my shoulder for bursitis pain and the next 2 mornings my cheeks were flushed although I felt fine. I had trouble getting to sleep last night which is very unusual for me.

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Comment from: tigger, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 28

Years ago I had a cortisone injection in my shoulder, had no side effects and it fixed the issue. Three and a half months ago I got two cortisone injections, one in each thumb for bone on bone arthritis. The first few hours I was in severe pain, which got better and disappeared. But then all the other weird things started happening. My blood pressure (BP) spiked and my head felt like it was going to blow off. The BP has finally started going down but it would spike to the point that I could feel it. My sugar number was a bit high in a recent physical. Gastric nightmares with gurgling, bloating, gas, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, I came down with the flu, ended up in the emergency room because my potassium levels dropped very low. The first month or so I suffered almost daily panic attacks, something that hadn't happened in a few years, and insomnia. I had a constant low level of anxiety. It did take the thumb pain from a daily 10 down to a daily 3. But I'll never do it again. I'm still suffering with many of the above symptoms.

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