Living with arthritis, tendinitis, or bursitis can make daily activities difficult due to joint pain and stiffness. If remedies like heat, icing, and physical therapy are ineffective, your orthopedic specialist may suggest cortisone injections. Should you get the shots? Will they help? Will it delay the need for joint replacement surgery? This article will discuss the uses of cortisone shots and when they are best effective.
What is Cortisone Injection?
Cortisone injections are a standard treatment for reducing pain and inflammation in joints affected by arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. They work by mimicking a naturally occurring hormone called cortisol with anti-inflammatory properties.
The synthetic version is injected directly into the joint, where it slows down collagen production and calms nerves, ultimately reducing pain. However, while cortisone injections can provide temporary relief, frequent and high concentrations of the medication can do more harm than good. Repeated injections can weaken tendons and damage cartilage, making them less effective for younger patients or those with severe joint damage. Therefore, cortisone injections are not a long-term treatment or a substitute for joint replacement surgery.
How Long Do Cortisone Shots Take to Work?
Cortisone injections temporarily relieve joint pain, but it takes time to see the effects. The procedure typically involves a mixture of the steroid and a local anesthetic injected directly into the affected joint. The doctor may also numb the injection site with a topical anesthetic. You may experience increased pain and discomfort for up to 48 hours after the injection, but the pain will eventually decrease within a week.
When There’s No Way but Surgery
Orthopedic surgeons often use cortisone shots as a way to delay surgery and provide pain relief. However, they are only effective for some people and are not recommended as a long-term solution. In addition, patients with diabetes must be careful as these shots can temporarily raise blood sugar levels.
If you have received cortisone shots 3-4 times a year and there has been no improvement, or they have not made a measurable difference in your pain, surgery may be recommended.
Before submitting to surgery, you should consider other non-surgical options, like pain medication, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy. But, surgery may be necessary if your joints are deformed, have a limited range of motion, or your pain is unmanageable and interfering with your quality of life.
Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, P.A.
Our orthopedic specialists initially offer the least invasive, non-surgical treatments, including cortisone injections, when necessary. However, when these conservative treatments no longer work for you, we can offer high-tech joint replacement surgery. Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, P.A. is the top team for joint replacement in Rocky Mount. We provide advanced treatments to help you live a more robust, healthier, and better life. If you suffer from severe joint pain, contact us at 252-443-0400 and schedule an appointment.