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Cortisone (Steroid) Injection

Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected into joints and soft tissues under X-ray or ultrasound guidance to decrease inflammation and reduce pain.

This procedure allows a small dose of medication to be injected into a localized and specific area of concern while keeping potential side effects to a minimum. It can also confirm the origin of your pain - considered a "diagnostic" injection. This procedure can be used to treat joint pain or arthritis, or inflammation of a bursa or around a tendon (tenosynovitis).

Relief may last 3-6 months and, if successful, repeat injections can be performed up to four times per year.

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY PROCEDURE?

  • Take all prescribed medications as directed. If you are on anticoagulation drugs (Plavix, Coumadin, Warfarin, etc.) you may need to have an international normalized ratio (INR) test and temporarily stop your medication prior to the procedure. Please inform our booking coordinators so that they can discuss this in more detail with you.
  • Diabetics: Please note that cortisone can cause a temporary increase in blood sugar. Please monitor your blood sugar closely and if you have any concerns, consult with your doctor.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment.
  • You may experience discomfort, so please have someone accompany you on the day of your test. It may be more convenient to have someone else drive you home.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY PROCEDURE?

  • We may provide you with a comfortable clinic gown to change into (depending on the area being treated).
  • A team member will explain the consent form, procedure details, and answer any questions.
  • We will then escort you to our treatment suite where you will meet the radiologist who will clean the skin and inject a local anesthetic, similar to the freezing you get at the dentist.
  • After the location is confirmed with X-ray or ultrasound guidance, the anti-inflammatory and long-lasting freezing will be injected using a thin, sterile needle.
  • You will be assessed post-injection by our team and, if there are no concerns, you will be free to leave.

POST-PROCEDURE INSTRUCTIONS

  • First 24 hours: Keep the treatment area clean. Leave the Band-Aid on. Do not shower. 
  • First 48 hours: Avoid bathtubs, hot tubs, and pools. Avoid strenuous activity and lifting.
  • After one week: You may resume physiotherapy. Be mindful of your pain and stop if it hurts too much. Notify your physiotherapist that you have had this injection so they can modify your exercises if necessary.
  • Watch for infection: If you develop worsening pain, skin redness at the site of injection, or a temperature greater than 38.5°C, please proceed to an urgent care or emergency centre.
  • If you have pain or other symptoms beyond 48 hours after your injection, please call our office at 403-568-3890 or email us at paintherapy@radiology.ca during business hours. You may apply heat and ice to the treatment area.
  • Diabetics: Note that cortisone can cause a temporary increase in blood sugar. Please monitor your blood sugar closely and, if you have any concerns, consult with your doctor.

WHEN WILL I SEE RESULTS?

  • After your injection, the freezing may last for a few hours. Your symptoms may return until the steroid takes effect in 3-7 days. Please track your symptom response to share with your physician.
  • A steroid injection typically provides three months of symptom relief. If an injection does not help relieve your symptoms, then you may need further evaluation by your referring doctor for another cause of your symptoms.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

This exam is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinic.

FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Please ensure that you bring your requisition with to your appointment.


DURATION

15-20 minutes

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long does the injection take to work?

After your injection, the freezing may last for a few hours. Your symptoms may return until the steroid takes effect in 3-7 days. Please track your symptom response to share with your physician.

How long will the injection last?

Relief may last 3-6 months, and if successful, repeat injections can be performed up to four times per year.

How many injections can I have and how often?

Radiologists recommend injections occur no more than once every three months (totalling four per year) for any one body part. Excessive steroid use can cause other health problems.

What are the side effects?

These are very safe procedures. The most common side effect of an injection is mild pain or bruising around the area. Over-the-counter pain medications or icing the area can help. Long-term effects of repeated cortisone injections may include weakening of muscle, tendons, and local skin changes, so, to avoid this, we will make suggestions for alternate treatments or supportive care when repeated cortisone injections have failed to relieve symptoms. As all our procedures are performed in a sterile manner according to provincial guidelines, only in very rare circumstances will a patient develop an infection or an allergy to a substance in the product. The booking staff will review your allergies with you prior to your appointment.