Injectable corticosteroid medications, commonly called “cortisone,” have been used by orthopaedic professionals since the early 1950s for a variety of conditions, including tendonitis, arthritis, tennis elbow, and many other conditions. Cortisone is naturally produced in the body through the adrenal gland and released when the body is under stress.
Injectable cortisone is synthetically produced and is similar to the body’s own product. By minimizing inflammation, injectable cortisone can provide significant pain relief and allow for an earlier return to activity, whether to complete a weekend home repair effort or to win a football game. Cortisone injections are completely legal and different from the illegal anabolic steroids used to increase athletic strength and speed.
How does cortisone work?
Cortisone is not a pain-relieving medication, but rather works by minimizing the body’s reaction to inflammation. When the inflammation is lessened, the pain is also. By injecting the medicine directly into the inflamed area, such as a wrist or shoulder joint, high concentrations of cortisone can be administered with minimal side effects. Discomfort usually improves within a few days and lasts for several weeks or permanently. If cortisone injections are used, they must be combined with the appropriate rest period and rehabilitation to gain the best results. Medical professionals are often hesitant to use these injections routinely for injury treatment as they may turn off the body’s “alarm system,” ultimately leading to a more significant injury later on.
Who shouldn’t have a cortisone injection?
There are very few contraindications in the use of cortisone injections. However, the following conditions should be fully discussed with an orthopaedic professional before seeking a cortisone injection: n Infection of a joint (septic arthritis) n Skin infection at the site of the injection n Allergic reaction to previous cortisone injections n Usage of blood thinners, such as Coumadin® n Acute injury (head trauma, broken bones) Finally, athletes should not receive cortisone injections into a joint or bursa sac immediately before competition, as the athletic activity may cause the injury to resurface, resulting in pain, swelling, and stiffness.
For information, questions, or appointments, contact Dr. Bynum's office at (239) 337-2003.