How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Last & What are its Side Effects?

Are you suffering from joint pain? Has your doctor asked you to take cortisone shots to relieve the pain? Wondering how long does a cortisone shot last & what are its side effects? Read on to get the answers.

What is a Cortisone Shot?

What is a Cortisone Shot?

Cortisone shot is an injection containing steroids, which is administered into specific areas of the body like hip, elbow, knee, ankle, wrist, shoulder or spine. Small joints in the feet and hands may benefit from cortisone shots.The medication injected (cortisone shot) is generally meant to relieve the inflammation and swelling of tissue in the joint space. Cortisone shots are also helpful in relieving pain and other symptoms triggered by irritation in the joint.

Cortisone shot given in the joint basically contains a steroidal medicine coupled with a local anaesthesia and requires only a few minutes to be administered. The procedure of giving a cortisone shot comprises of a needle being inserted through the skin and deeper tissues which may cause some amount of pain to the patient during the process. However, the skin and deeper tissues are sometimes numbed with a local anaesthesia prior to inserting the needle of the cortisone shot into the joint.

Often, one receives a cortisone shot at a doctor’s clinic. Just after the cortisone shot is administered, one may feel that their pain has more or less relieved. This is because of the local anaesthesia that is injected along with the steroid. This relief will, however, last only for a few hours. The pain will return and one may have a sore joint for a day or two. This happens because of the mechanical process of needle insertion and the initial irritation from the steroid itself. One should start noticing relief in the pain starting from the 3rd of the cortisone shot onwards. Because of its potential side effects, the number of cortisone shot that one can receive in a year is generally limited.

What Should One Do After Taking A Cortisone Shot?

If taking the cortisone shot in the doctor’s clinic, the patient should head straight back home after the procedure. They may apply ice to the affected area if they feel the need and they should perform activities as per their tolerance. Unless any complications arise, one can resume their regular course of activities from the following day. The most commonly experienced complication one may feel is a sore joint.

How Long Does the Effect of a Cortisone Shot Last?

The immediate effect of the local anaesthesia that is injected usually wears off in a few hours. The cortisone shot begins to work in about 3 to 5 days and its effect can last for a duration of several days to a few months. In case the first cortisone shot does not relieve the symptoms in 2 to 3 weeks, one may be advised to take another cortisone shot. If the individual responds to this cortisone shot, but continues to have residual pain, they may be recommended to take further cortisone shots as and when needed. These cortisone shot should, however, be taken depending on the underlying state of the joint.

What are the Side Effects & Risks Associated with Cortisone Shots?

Generally cortisone shot is considered a safe procedure and serious side effects rarely occur. However, like any other procedure, even cortisone shots are accompanied with some risks, side effects and potential complications. The most commonly experienced side effect of cortisone shot is temporary pain. Risks like bleeding, infections and worsening of symptoms, etc. are also involved. The other risks linked to the side effects of steroids include increase in blood sugar, water retention, weight gain and suppression of body’s own natural production of cortisone.

Who Should Not Take A Cortisone Shot?

People should let their doctor know if they are allergic to any of the medications, which are can potentially be injected in a cortisone shot. If they are already taking a blood thinning medication or are suffering from an active infection, uncontrolled diabetes or cardiac disease, they should avoid taking cortisone shots. They should consider postponing these injections until their overall medical condition improves.

One should remember that it is difficult to predict whether a cortisone shot will help them or not. However, patients who have had a recent onset of pain or milder pain may respond much better than the individuals with severe or longstanding pain.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 5, 2019

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