Cortisone Injections

What is cortisone?
Cortisone is a type of steroid that is produced naturally by a gland in your body called the adrenal gland. Cortisone is released from the adrenal gland when your body is under stress. Natural cortisone is released into the blood stream and is relatively short-acting.

Injectable cortisone is synthetically produced and has many different trade names (e.g. Celestone, Kenalog, etc.), but is a close derivative of your body’s own product. The most significant differences are that synthetic cortisone is not injected into the blood stream, but into a particular area of inflammation. Also, the synthetic cortisone is designed to act more potently and for a longer period of time. 

How does the cortisone injection help?
Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. Cortisone is not a pain relieving medication, it only treats the inflammation. When pain is decreased from cortisone it is because the inflammation is diminished. By injecting the cortisone into a particular area of inflammation, very high concentrations of the medication can be given while keeping potential side-effects to a minimum. Cortisone injections usually work within a few days (48-72 hours), and can last up to several weeks, months, and even years.

What are some common reasons for a cortisone injection?
Many conditions where inflammation is an underlying problem are amenable to cortisone shots. These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Osteoarthritic joint
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Epicondylitis
  • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis  
  • Shoulder Bursitis
  • Trigger Finger
  • Trochanteric Bursitis

Does the cortisone injection hurt?
The shot can be slightly painful, especially when given into a joint, but in skilled hands it is usually well tolerated. Numbing medication, such as Lidocaine or Marcaine, is often injected with the cortisone to provide temporary relief of the affected area. Also, topical anesthetics can help numb the skin in an area being injected.