How Does a Cortisone Injection Relieve Joint Pain?

Cortisone injections are typically used for temporary relief. A cortisone injection allows a doctor to deliver potent medicine directly to the site of inflammation. For most people, the initial corticosteroid injection will reduce inflammation and pain. A successful cortisone injection can suppress localized inflammation anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on the condition of the patient being treated. While cortisone injections can be an important tool in treating joint inflammation and pain, they do have limitations.

What Are the Risks of Repeated Cortisone Injections?

Repeated injections can negatively affect soft tissue, causing damage to the tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage. In fact, the Achilles and patella tendons are particularly prone to injury after an injection. For this reason, doctors avoid cortisone injections for Achilles and patella tendinopathies. Furthermore, patients who have repeated cortisone shots may notice that pain relief becomes shorter over time. This is not necessarily because the patient has built up a tolerance to the medication, but because the joint is degrading.

Is Physical Therapy an Alternative to Cortisone Injections?

Patients seeking better long-term relief are advised to participate in physical therapy instead of cortisone injections. In addition to stretching and strengthening their joints, muscles, and other soft tissue, patients are also advised to make lifestyle changes such as losing weight. The steps taken during physical therapy can improve the biomechanics of the  joint. More importantly, physical therapy can possibly decrease or eliminate the need for cortisone shots.

For more information regarding cortisone Injections or alternative treatments such as physical therapy, contact a Manhattan sports medicine doctor. We’re committed to helping you maintain a healthy and active lifestyle! Call or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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