What is a cortisone injection?
Cortisone is a steroid which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the soft tissues. It is injected locally around joints, tendons and skin. Local injections of steroid are less likely to produce serious side effects compared with taking systemic (tablet or intravenous injection) steroid treatment.
What are the benefits of cortisone injections?
Local cortisone injections are one of the most safe and effective ways of relieving pain and improving function. Injections can be performed in the clinic or by a radiologists using ultrasound or X-ray for guidance. They reduce the swelling around tendons, bursae and lining of joints which is often the source of pain and limited movement.
When can cortisone injections be used?
Some common conditions where local cortisone injections can be used before considering surgery, include:
- Painful and arthritic joints
- Trigger finger/thumb
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Subacromial bursitis (shoulder)
- Frozen shoulder – hydrodilatation
- Keloid or hypertrophic scars
Repeated injections should be avoided to minimise the risk of infection or weakening tendons, ligaments or bone.
What are the risks?
Mild pain around the injection site for a short time is common. A “steroid flare” can sometimes cause more prolonged pain for 2-3 days which is often relieved by paracetamol.
Other rare risks include: