Cortisone is the most common injection used in the medical management of musculoskeletal conditions. Most people would know someone who has had a cortisone injection, or may have had one themselves. A recent article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has done a terrific job in summarising the short and long term effects of cortisone injections on numerous body parts.
What is a cortisone steroid injection?
Cortisone is a synthetic version of cortisol, a steroid naturally produced by the body in response to stressors. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is often administered with a local anesthetic.
Common Conditions Cortisone is Prescribed For:
Lateral elbow pain – Tennis Elbow
Shoulder pain – Rotator Cuff, Bursitis
Lateral hip pain – Gluteal Tendinopathy, Bursitis
Osteoarthritis (OA) – Knee, Hip, Thumb
Tendinopathies – Achilles, Elbow, Hip, Shoulder
Short Term and Long Term Effects
In the majority of cases, the research demonstrates that the use of cortisone injections has potential short term benefits for most conditions and minimal to no benefit in the long term. However, it also shows that there is also definite harm when compared to conservative management at 6 months when used in lateral elbow pain or tennis elbow. Similarly for knee OA, there is a growing body of evidence showing increased harm to the knee joint over 2-4 years.
What else can I do to manage and treat my pain?
Gently loading the sensitive tissues will build the tissue’s capacity. From there, we can progressively strengthen the tendons, muscles and joints to increase their resilience and loading tolerance. Applying load management strategies and engaging in regular physical activity can be beneficial for inflammation and reduce sensitivity of the joint or tendon. Consulting with your health care professionals on the best treatment route for you is highly recommended. Teaming up with your Physiotherapist to discuss your condition and goals further so you can work together to develop your individualised load management program is of great benefit.
To get started on your treatment journey today, book with one of our Physiotherapists here.
You can also check out our Facebook and Youtube pages to see some of our favourite exercises for some of the conditions listed above.
Reference: Orchard JWCorticosteroid injections: glass half-full, half-empty or full then empty?British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 30 January 2020. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101250