Cortisone Injections

The Benefits and Considerations of Cortisone Shots in Orthopedics


Cortisone shots have become a popular treatment option recommended by orthopedic doctors for muscle, nerve, and joint pain. These injections work by reducing inflammation, thereby alleviating pain and aiding in the diagnosis of orthopedic conditions. This article explores the use of cortisone shots in orthopedics, discussing what cortisone is, how it works, the conditions it can treat, administration methods, potential complications, and the importance of proper medical supervision.

Understanding Cortisone and Its Mechanism:

Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication rather than a pain reliever. It is a potent hormone produced naturally by the body, released by the adrenal gland in response to stress. By suppressing the immune system, cortisone reduces inflammation, pain, and swelling at the site of injury. It belongs to a class of steroids called corticosteroids and should be administered appropriately to avoid potential harm.

Conditions Treated with Cortisone:

Cortisone can effectively treat various orthopedic conditions, including but not limited to:

Administration Methods:

Cortisone can be administered orally or through injections. Injections are commonly preferred as they deliver the medication directly to the affected area, providing faster relief without dilution through the bloodstream. The frequency of dosage depends on the specific condition and individual characteristics. Repeating the dose is generally recommended after several months, and alternative treatments may be explored if cortisone injections prove ineffective.

Complications and Side Effects:

Cortisone injections typically have minimal lasting side effects and are well-tolerated by patients. However, it is important to note potential complications:
Oral Cortisone: Oral cortisone usually does not cause significant side effects, with patients primarily experiencing pain relief. Minor reactions such as a “flushing” sensation, stomach upsets, or sugar imbalances in diabetics may occur. Long-term oral cortisone treatment should be limited to a little over a week to avoid organ and tissue damage.
Injectable Cortisone: Frequent injections over time may lead to tissue damage or tendon rupture depending on the injection site. Short-term side effects include pain at the injection site, numbness, and temporary burning pain. Long-term pain relief can be experienced immediately or within a few days to weeks.
Systemic Side Effects: Systemic side effects are rare since the body naturally produces cortisone. Diabetic patients may experience temporary elevation in blood sugar levels, requiring monitoring. Facial flushing and redness may occur for a few hours or days following an injection, especially in women.

Importance of Medical Supervision:

Cortisone injections should always be administered by a properly trained and experienced physician or healthcare professional. It is preferable to use direct image guidance technology to ensure the efficacy and safety of the procedure. The success of cortisone treatments depends on a combination of factors, including patient suitability, the specific medical condition, and the expertise of the healthcare provider.


Cortisone shots have established themselves as a valuable treatment option for various orthopedic conditions. When used appropriately, cortisone, whether administered orally or through injections, is considered safe and effective. However, proper medical supervision is crucial to ensure the correct usage and minimize the risk of complications. By considering individual patient characteristics and employing cortisone as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, orthopedic doctors can provide effective relief and improved outcomes for their patients.