Therefore, if you receive a steroid shot at your doctor's office, it will not cause muscle growth in the same way illicit steroid used by athletes to cheat will. Cortisone is a very powerful anti-inflammatory medication. It's 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, and the effects can last up to several weeks. In addition to injected cortisone, many physicians will mix the cortisone with another medication that may provide pain relief effects.
For example, orthopedic surgeons will often mix cortisone with a local anesthetic to provide both immediate and longer-lasting pain relief. In addition, that added anesthetic can be helpful from a diagnostic standpoint. If the pain relief occurs quickly, your doctor will know the local anesthetic was delivered to the right location, and therefore the cortisone will also be in the right spot.
Many conditions where inflammation is an underlying problem are amenable to cortisone shots. These include, but are certainly not limited to:. A cortisone shot can be painful, especially when given into a joint, but in skilled hands, it usually is well tolerated. Often, the cortisone injection can be performed with a very small needle that causes little discomfort. However, sometimes a slightly larger needle must be used, especially if your physician is attempting to remove fluid through the needle prior to injecting the cortisone.
Numbing medication, such as Lidocaine or Marcaine, can be injected with the cortisone to provide temporary relief for the affected area. Cortisone injections administered to larger joints are generally very well tolerated, whereas injections into small joints or tight spaces may be much more uncomfortable.
For this reason, injections into the finger joints, feet, and tendons tend to cause much more discomfort than a shot into the shoulder or knee. Like any drug, there are possible reactions, side effects, and complications that can occur with a cortisone injection. Some doctors often are not keenly aware of the side effects of cortisone as these tend to be limited they resolve in a short amount of time and your doctor may not see these effects as they tend to occur long after the patient has left the office.
Many patients feel as though their doctor doesn't care about these sometimes significant consequences of cortisone. If that's the case, it's important to be aware of the possible side effects of any medication you take and inform your doctor if they occur. Systemic side effects occur as a result of a small amount of the cortisone entering the bloodstream and affecting your entire body, not just the location where the cortisone was given.
Systemic side effects of a local injection of cortisone are rare and usually minor. Unlike taking oral steroids, or having cortisone injected directly into the bloodstream, only a small amount of a targeted injection is absorbed by the body. Since the body actually produces cortisone naturally, most people do not experience systemic effects.
Those who do have symptoms of something may experience the following problems:. Elevated Blood Sugar. Elevated blood sugar is the most common systemic reaction to cortisone seen in people with diabetes. They should carefully monitor their blood sugar as cortisone can cause a temporary rise in their blood glucose levels.
Patients taking insulin should be especially careful, checking their blood sugar often and adjusting the insulin doses, if necessary. If the blood sugar rises more than anticipated, you should contact the physician who manages your diabetes to see if additional treatment is necessary. Facial Flushing. Patients may experience flushing sensation and redness of their face. This reaction is more common in women and is seen in up to 15 percent of patients who receive a cortisone shot.
Facial flushing can begin within a few hours of the injection and may last for a few days. Many doctors are unaware of how common this reaction is, and some may not appreciate how this can be upsetting to patients. The good news is that these symptoms do spontaneously resolve, but it may make patients think twice before having another shot. Local side effects are those that are only experienced in the one area of the body where the injection occurred.
The local side effects of a cortisone injection are also rare, but again, they do occur and you should know what to do if they happen to you:. Cortisone injections are extremely safe, but they do still have potential problems. If you're concerned about having a cortisone shot, talk with your doctor. While cortisone is a powerful treatment for many orthopedic conditions, there are usually other options that can also be tried.
Many doctors will offer an injection as they are quick, easy, and most often effective. However, your doctor should also be able to offer other treatments for inflammation that may also be effective for those that cannot have or don't want a cortisone injection. If you have had side effects as a result of a previous cortisone injection, be sure to let your doctor know of the problem that occurred and the severity of the side effect. This may influence whether or not you have another injection for the same or a different problem.
There is no rule as to how many cortisone injections can be given. Often, physicians do not want to give more than three, but there is not really a specific limit to the number of shots. However, there are some practical limitations. If a cortisone injection wears off quickly or does not help the problem, then repeating it may not be worthwhile. Also, animal studies have shown effects of weakening of tendons and softening of cartilage with cortisone injections.
For these reasons, many physicians limit the number of injections they offer to a patient. The most common number physicians tell their patients is that no more than three injections should be administered in the span of a year, in one location of the body. That said, there are physicians who use more cortisone than this, and others who are more judicious about administering steroid shots. Discuss with your doctor how often you should or could have an injection.
Many people have strong feelings about cortisone injections, if they're magic, if they're horrible, and if they should be used. Here's the bottom line: cortisone can be a very powerful tool that can be an excellent treatment, but is probably overused as a treatment for too many conditions, too frequently. Cortisone should only be used to treat inflammation, not just injected for pain.
It should be used sparingly, especially in younger people with healthy joints and tendons. If you do have any kind of reaction to the injection, it would be helpful to be around healthcare professionals. For some conditions, such as inflammatory types of arthritis, steroid injections are often useful in the short term while you and your doctor find the right medications to control your arthritis in the long term.
In this case, once your arthritis is well controlled the need for injections should be reduced. It is important you monitor your blood sugar levels after a steroid injection. There is evidence that having too many steroid injections into the same area can cause damage to the tissue inside the body. You may be advised to have less than that depending on your symptoms.
There is a small risk that if you exercise a joint too much immediately after a steroid injection you could damage the tendon. Tendons are strong cords that attach muscles to bones. Start off gently and gradually increase the amount you do. Most people have steroid injections without any side effects.
They can be a little uncomfortable at the time of injection, but many people feel that this is not as bad as they feared. Occasionally people notice a flare-up in their joint pain within the first 24 hours after an injection. This usually settles by itself within a couple of days, but taking simple painkillers like paracetamol will help. The risk of side effects is greatest with the stronger mixtures — methylprednisolone and triamcinolone.
Injections can occasionally cause some thinning or changes in the colour of the skin at the injection site, particularly with the stronger ones. Very rarely you may get an infection in the joint at the time of an injection. If your joint becomes more painful and hot you should see your doctor immediately, especially if you feel unwell.
People are often concerned about the possibility of other steroid-related side effects such as weight gain. One of the advantages of steroid injections compared to tablets is that often the dose can be kept low. This means that these other side effects are very rare unless injections are given frequently, more than a few times per year.
This may be more likely if you have a history of mood disturbance. If you've had a steroid injection into a joint or muscle, your healthcare professional may give you a steroid card for you to carry around. This will have details of the treatment you've had. Steroid injections can stop the body producing natural hormones, which can be dangerous if you get ill, have an accident or need an operation. There is evidence that this can be a risk for up to one month after just one steroid injection.
If you've had three steroid injections over the course of 12 months, this risk could last for a further 12 months. Keeping the card with you will help any other doctor who treats you to manage your care correctly.
If you have any questions or concerns about this, talk to the healthcare professional who prescribed your steroids. You can take other medicines with steroid injections. This is because of the risk of bleeding into the joint. You should mention that you take anticoagulants to the person giving the injection. You may be advised to adjust your warfarin dose before having the steroid injection.
This is how they reduce inflammation. Some vaccines work by giving you a very small dose of a particular disease, so that you then become immune to it. Having at least two alcohol-free days a week is good for your health. Current guidelines state that steroids are not harmful in pregnancy or breastfeeding. Steroid injections. Download steroid injections information booklet. Print this page.
What are steroid injections and how are they used?
Steroids injections will most likely be administered by a specialist doctor. Depending on the purpose of the injection, there are several different ways steroids can be injected;. Steroid injections could also be administered through the veins intravenously. However, this is rare and is mostly used for autoimmune flares.
The area around the injection may remain sore for a few days. To help reduce the discomfort of the injection, doctors may administer an anesthetic to numb the pain. The anesthetic will last for a few hours and will do well in numbing any residual pain you might have felt from the steroid injection.
You should wait for 15 to 20 minutes after taking your steroid injection. This is important in case you develop any harmful side effects, as you will be surrounded by health care professionals. For some conditions, such as arthritis , steroid injections are often best suited for short term treatment, as opposed to long term. This is because of the many side effects long term steroid injections can cause.
The majority of people who take steroid injections experience little to no side effects. While they may feel a little uncomfortable while taking the injection, that is only temporary. The most common side effect of steroid injections is joint pain or flare-up around the area of the injection. However, this only lasts a little over 24 hours, and simple painkillers like paracetamol are effective in stopping the pain.
The risk of side effects also depends greatly on the strength of the steroid injection you took, as lighter mixtures tend to leave no side effects. Potential side effects also depend greatly on where the steroid injection is taken. For instance, injections into the spine, muscle, or joints often include temporary pain and discomfort, temporary bruising or blood clotting, pale skin where the injection was taken, increase blood sugar levels, and so on.
On rare occasions, steroid injections in the spine could lead to an infection, headaches, swelling, redness, and pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor and seek medical advice immediately. Epidural injections can also cause painful headaches.
Although this will probably leave on its own, you should contact medical personnel for help. Lying down will also help in curbing these headaches. Side effects of steroid injections given directly into the bloodstream tend to vary from little things like mood changes, increase in appetite, difficulty in sleeping, and so on. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, or high blood sugar levels are at risk when taking steroid injections, as steroid injections tend to cause an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar.
Your doctor will discuss with you if it is still safe for you to get the steroid injection. If you happen to take steroid injections regularly over short periods, you may have to worry about other side effects including weight gain, hair loss, acne, etc. If you have any worries concerning any of the side effects or the process of taking the steroid injections, please discuss with your doctor or any verified medical personnel.
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