Cortisone (Steroid) Injection

Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected into joints and soft tissues, with the help of X-ray or ultrasound guidance, to decrease inflammation and reduce pain. This can be helpful for a variety of conditions, including arthritis and inflammation around a tendon (tenosynovitis).

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?

  • Take all prescribed medications as directed. If you’re on anticoagulation drugs (e.g., Plavix, Coumadin, Warfarin) you may need to have an international normalized ratio (INR) test. Please speak to your booking coordinator for more detailed information.
  • If you take insulin to manage your diabetes, please let your booking coordinator know. You may have some juice and a small snack after taking your insulin.
  • 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 EXAM?

  • We may provide you with a comfortable clinic gown to change into (depending on the area being treated).
  • Your technologist will escort you to our fluoroscopic treatment suite where you will be greeted by the radiologist.
  • The radiologist will clean the skin and inject a local anaesthetic, similar to the freezing you would 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.
  • After being checked post-injection, you are free to leave with no recovery time required.

POST-EXAM INSTRUCTIONS

  • Please rest during the 24 hours after your injection avoiding heavy activity and aggressive physical therapy or rehabilitation sessions for 24-48 hours.
  • Be mindful of your pain and stop if it hurts too much.
  • Please advise your physiotherapist that you have had this injection so they can modify your exercises if necessary.
  • A mild increase in blood sugar levels may be noticed in patients with diabetes, which can last several days or up to one week.

WHEN WILL I SEE RESULTS?

  • The injection includes a long-lasting local anaesthetic (freezing) so your relief may be immediate. The pain can return as the freezing wears off and before the other medication takes effect. The steroid typically takes, on average, 2-10 days to start working and may take up to a week to take full effect.
  • Results vary 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 that is permanent, while others have no significant effect. Pain 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.

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.

Questions?

Duration

15-20 minutes

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long does the injection take to work?

The injection includes a long-lasting local anaesthetic (freezing) so your relief may be immediate. The pain can return as the freezing wears off and before the other medication takes effect. The steroid typically takes, on average, 2-10 days to start working and may take up to a week to take full effect.

How long will the injection last?

Results vary 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 that is permanent, while others have no significant effect. Pain 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.

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?

A 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 injections may include weakening of muscle, tendons or even skin. Very rare side effects may include infection or allergy to material in the injection. The booking coordinator will review your allergies with you prior to your appointment.