What to Know About Cortisone Injections

April 13, 2021

The weather outside is looking more and more tempting. However, if joint pain is slowing you down, it can be hard to enjoy the sunshine. Depending on the nature of your injury and the pain it’s causing you, cortisone shots may be an option.

How a cortisone shot works

A cortisone shot typically consists of a corticosteroid medication (to relieve inflammation and pain over time) and a local anesthetic (for immediate pain relief) and is often injected directly into a joint. Cortisone shots are most often used to treat inflammatory arthritis—including rheumatoid arthritis, gout and psoriatic arthritis—but can also be part of treatment for other conditions, including back pain, bursitis, osteoarthritis, reactive arthritis and tendonitis.

How a cortisone shot is administered

When you receive a cortisone shot, the process will start with cleaning the area around the injection site, and an anesthetic spray may be used to numb the area where the needle will be inserted (although you’ll most likely still feel some pressure when the needle goes in). In some cases, the doctor may use ultrasound or a type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to monitor the needle’s position in your body. When the needle is in the right spot, the medicine is released.

Cortisone shot recovery – getting back to your routine

Everyone’s body is different, and the effects of cortisone treatments can vary from person to person, so any decision about resuming exercise or taking on difficult physical activity should be discussed with your doctor. However, you should generally avoid exercise for 24 hours after an injection and protect the injection area for a day or two. That includes staying away from bathtubs, hot tubs and whirlpools for two days (although you can continue to shower).

Of course, if you have pain around the injection site—which is normal and may last up to 48 hours— it’s a good idea to wait until that pain subsides before picking up your normal activities. If you experience this pain, treat it with ice, not heat.

The benefits of cortisone shots- what you can expect

After 48 hours, the pain will subside, and you’ll have less pain and inflammation in the affected joint than when you started.

While the effects of cortisone typically take from a few days to up to several weeks, many patients report almost immediate pain relief following an injection.

This relief should last as long as several months, allowing you to enjoy a higher overall quality of life.

Considering a cortisone shot or other treatment for your pain? Orlin & Cohen offices across Long Island are open seven days a week for immediate, personalized care. Request an in-person or telehealth appointment now.