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Cortisone shots are injections that help relieve pain and inflammation. They are injected directly into the joints such as the ankle, wrist, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow . These injections are a combination of corticosteroids and local anaesthetics. These corticosteroids are similar to the hormones produced by the adrenal gland. Cortisone injections are also used to treat the carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, shoulder bursitis and plantar fasciitis. Though they do not cure the disease but they provide temporary relief.
These injections may be slightly painful but provide relief in a day or two that lasts for a few weeks or months at a stretch. Hence, cortisone shots provide relief faster and have longer lasting results than other forms of anti-inflammatory medication. Another benefit of cortisone injections as compared to other drugs that need to be taken in through the mouth is that it avoids side effects of anti-inflammatory medication such as an upset stomach and systemic side effect of steroid etc. Cortisone injections can also be used to treat backaches and pain that radiates from the spine to an arm or leg.
However, cortisone injections are associated with a number of risks. These include:
- Infection in the joints
- Thinning of tissue and skin around the injection site
- Pain and inflammation in the joint
- Weakening or rupturing of tendons
- Hypopigemtation of skin around the injection site
- Blood sugar spikes – this is seen mostly in diabetic patients
In most cases, these side effects are short-lived. Cortisone may also be held responsible for the deterioration of cartilage inside a joint. For this reason, doctors do not advise cortisone injections to be had more than 3-4 times in a joint. The minimum interval between two cortisone injections must be 6 weeks. When used judiciously, cortisone injections can greatly improve the quality of a patient’s life. Hence it is very important to get treated only by a qualified doctor and to completely understand the pros and cons of using this form of treatment.
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