Don't Let Pain Keep You Indoors This Spring
UNDERSTANDING CORTISONE INJECTIONS
With spring upon us, the onslaught of damp weather can aggravate joint pain from old injuries and conditions like arthritis, which can prevent us from enjoying the outdoors. But, this doesn’t have to be the case; treatment options are available.
For example, a Cortisone Injection introduces a steroid (an anti-inflammatory medication) into joints and soft tissues to decrease inflammation, and reduce pain. With the help of image guided pain therapy services like fluoroscopic (X-ray) or ultrasound guidance, a small dose of Cortisone can be injected to the specific inflamed area of concern while keeping the potential side effects to a minimum.
Conditions with inflammation as an underlying problem respond well to these injections. These can include:
- Bursitis - inflammation of a bursa, or small fluid-filled sac, typically around the shoulder or hip
- Arthritis - includes many types of joint diseases
- Trigger finger – tendon sheath thickening in a finger causing it to jerk or snap straight when the hand is extended, or not straighten all the way
- Tennis or golfer’s elbow - inflammation of the tendons of the elbow (epicondylitis) caused by overuse of the muscles of the forearm
- Carpal tunnel syndrome - a painful condition of the hand and fingers caused by compression of a nerve in the wrist
- Tenosynovitis - inflammation around a tendon
HOW DOES IT HELP?
At Mayfair, in addition to the cortisone medication, a short-lasting local anesthetic (freezing) is also injected so your relief can be immediate. On average, the steroid starts to work after 48 hours.
Another benefit of this injection is that you may need less other medications, and can avoid certain side effects that can accompany many oral anti-inflammatory medications, such as irritation of the stomach. Other advantages include high success rate, rapid onset, and convenient access.
WHAT ARE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS?
An infrequent side effect of the injection includes mild bruising around the area, which can be treated with icing. Long-term effects of repeated steroid injections may include weakening of tendons, or thinning of skin.
Results can last from weeks to months depending on the joint or body part involved, severity of the disease, and the cause of your pain. Some patients get complete relief after a single injection, while others may need to return for additional injections. These injections are both therapeutic (treat symptoms) and diagnostic (identify the cause of your pain). If an injection does not help relieve your pain, then you may need further evaluation. Repeated steroid injections are not recommended at the same site. We can advise on other non-steroid injections to be considered.
HOW DO I OBTAIN A CORTISONE INJECTION?
As a patient, the most important thing to do is discuss your symptoms with your health care practitioner. They will determine the best steps for treatment. Before your health care practitioner determines a cortisone injection is the best treatment for you, they may request an x-ray or ultrasound to help localize the specific cause of your symptoms.
Zoe J. Foster, MD; Tyler T. Voss, DO; Jacquelynn Hatch, DO; & Adam Frimodig, DO (2015) “Corticosteroid Injections for Common Musculoskeletal Conditions” American Academy of Family Physicians, October, 92(8): 694-699.
Driver, C.B. & Shiel, W.C. (2016) “Corticosteriod (cortisone) injection of joints and soft tissue facts.” MedicineNet.com, January.
Nepple, J.J. & Matava, M.J. (2009) “Soft Tissue Injections in the Athlete.” Sports Health, September, 1(5): 396-404
Salinas, J.D., et al. (2016) “Corticosteroid Injections of Joints and Soft Tissues.” Medscape.com, June.