What are Cortisone Injections

Cortisone shots are injections that can help relieve pain and inflammation in a specific area of your body. They’re most commonly injected into joints — such as your ankle, elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, spine or wrist. Even the small joints in your hands or feet might benefit from cortisone shots.

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Dr. Patrick Ling, MD, MPH, FCFP(EM), DipSportMed, RMSK, discusses cortisone injections for the treatment of joint pain.

Cortisone Injections for Joint Pain

Cortisone shots are injections of a medication called corticosteroids, and corticosteroids represent a group of medications, not just one particular medicine.

They vary in terms of their lipid solubility, and as a result, they vary in terms of their duration of action.

They’re used primarily for inflammatory conditions, such as bursitis, arthropathies, or arthritis, or inflammatory conditions involving tendons, or tendon sheaths.

The success of a cortisone shot, or whether or not it will work – in plain terms – depends upon, first of all, a correct diagnosis. There are various tests, and maneuvers, and imaging that can be done to confirm the diagnosis of, say, bursitis, arthritis, or tendon conditions.

The second thing that also determines the success of a shot is whether or not it’s delivered correctly into the right location. There’s the traditional method of injection, which is landmark guidance.

In very experienced hands, it’s done – the success rate can be very high. Ultrasound guidance is another means of injection whereby injection can be properly delivered into the right location up to 100 percent of the time.

The number of cortisone injections a person can get is a fairly complicated question to answer. First of all, it depends whether or not it’s the right treatment and it actually works. Once it’s established that it’s the right treatment, the number depends upon a risk-benefit ratio.

The risks of cortisone shots are sometimes inadvertent injection into the wrong location, effects onto the skin such as thinning or atrophy of the surrounding skin or fat tissues, and in some cases infection. The benefits, obviously, are that it would help to control pain for these inflammatory conditions.

If you have any questions about cortisone shots, or corticosteroid injections, consult with your local sports medicine physician.

Presenter: Dr. Patrick Ling, Sports Medicine Physician, Saskatoon, SK

Local Practitioners: Sports Medicine Physician

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