Cortisone Injection: Shoulder Pain Relief

You can try different options for shoulder pain, and with cortisone injection, shoulder pain can be greatly relieved. Learn when and what to expect when you have the injection.

You have a number of different options to deal with shoulder related injuries. One of the options are cortisone injection. Shoulder pain may subside once you have taken an injection. You experience relief mainly because corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications. Taking an injection may help relieve inflammation in tendons, joints, and bursa. These injections work quite well if you have pain in your shoulder due to bursitis or tendinitis.

When to Have Cortisone Injection for Shoulder Pain

When using cortisone injection, shoulder pain can be much relieved, it is a recommended treatment option only when other treatment options have failed,  which include rest, heat, ice, physical therapy, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

When used with an active rehabilitation program, cortisone injections work quite effectively to reduce pain and inflammation in shoulder. They also save you from having a surgery if you are suffering from shoulder impingement syndrome. They are quite effective for the treatment of different musculoskeletal conditions, such as bursitis and offer some relief when you are suffering from degenerative tendon and joint conditions.

A cortisone injection in shoulder is particular useful in the management of Glenohumeral osteoarthritis, rotator cuff disease, osteolysis, osteoarthritis, adhesive capsulitis, and sub acromial bursitis. Your doctor will prescribe cortisone injections only after considering your medical history and performing a clinical exam. They may even order some imaging tests, including x-rays and MRIs. They will then use a conservative treatment therapy and stick to rest, anti-inflammatory modalities for 4-6 weeks. They may decide to give you a cortisone injection if other treatment options fail to show any improvement. Keep in mind that these injections can raise blood sugar levels, so it is important for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar regularly.

Cortisone Injection Around Shoulder: What You Can Expect

During the Shot

You will first have to change into a gown and get in a position that makes it easier for your doctor to access your shoulder and insert the needle. They will clean the area around the injection site and use an anesthetic spray if required. Sometimes, your doctor will make use of a type of x-ray called fluoroscopy to see the movement of the needle inside your body. Cortisone shots contain a corticosteroid medication that when released into the injection site offers pain relief. You may experience some discomfort when the needle is inserted – tell your doctor if you feel too uncomfortable.

After the Shot

You may have redness with a feeling of warmth on the face and chest after receiving the shot. There may also be a change in your blood sugar levels. Once you have received your cortisone injection, shoulder area injected needs to be kept clean and take some other precautionary measures. Avoid lifting heavy weight for a few days after you receive the shot.

Similarly, you should also apply ice to the injection site and keep an eye on it to notice any signs of infection. You may take OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce pain. Talk to your doctor immediately if you notice redness, severe pain, and swelling around the injection site.

Experience and Effects

It usually takes about 4-6 hours for the anesthetic to wear off completely. After that, you will experience slight discomfort for a few days. When you receive local anesthetic with the steroid injection, you usually experience improvement quite quickly. Interestingly, it is not clear how well the injection will work for you. Some people experience pain relief for several months, while others find a few days of relief. You continue to experience pain usually when it is caused by some other problem.

Note: There May Be Pain in Injection

You may experience severe pain soon after receiving your cortisone injection shoulder. This is especially true if you have received local anesthesia that wears off after a few hours. The pain usually lasts for up to 48 hours in most cases. You may even find it difficult to move your shoulder. Your doctor may recommend wearing a sling after the shot. Even if your pain is quite manageable, it is a good idea to avoid repetitive use of the arm, especially above the shoulder or beyond pain-free limits.

How Often Can You Receive Cortisone Shot?

You can get a cortisone injection with a long- or short-acting steroid. These injections usually give you 2-3 months of relief. It means you will start experiencing pain again in a few months’ time. Some people think you can have a cortisone injection once in a lifetime, but that is not true. You can have 3-4 injections a year in a single joint area. It is mainly because there is a small risk of experiencing any harm when receiving any injection into a tendon or joint. You do not usually need to worry about damage to a ligament, tendon or nerve as well as bleeding into the tissue.

What Are the Side Effects of Receiving the Shot?

Once you receive a cortisone injection in shoulder, you may experience certain side effects as well. For instance:

  • You may develop subcutaneous lipodystrophy (loss of fat) when receiving an injection in the shoulder area. It is more common in young female patients. Make sure you do not get any subcutaneous injection and take it into the bursa only.
  • You may experience loss of strength in the muscle or tendon. Taking injection into muscles or tendons weakens collagen fibers and that leads to weakening of that muscle.

You may experience some other rare issues as well. Call emergency services if you experience trouble breathing or notice any swelling on your lips, face, throat, or tongue. Talk to your doctor immediately if you have swelling and pain around the injection area that does not go way after a couple of days. Let your doctor know if you develop hives after receiving a cortisone injection.

What Others Say

For Arthritis and Bone Spur

"After dealing with shoulder pain for more than 6 months and nothing else works, I finally decided to receive a cortisone injection. Shoulder x-ray showed that I have arthritis and pain due to a small bone spur. It wasn't painful to receive the injection. It just felt like some pressure on my shoulder and nothing much. I found immediate relief, which was due to the numbing agent mixed in the injection. The numbing agent finally wore off 10 hours later but my shoulder pain is still quite under control. My doctor said there will be improvement in the next 24-48 hours. I must say, you should not be afraid of getting this injection – it was not painful for me at least."

For Rotator Cuff Tears; Rise in Blood Sugar Level Experienced

"I had a couple of cortisone injection to manage my rotator cuff tears. The second injection was quite serious. I felt as if my blood would drain out of my body. I started sweating and almost passed out. I had to lie there because I started feeling nauseous too. My sugar level stays between 80 and 90, but that day, it was 156. I did not experience pain while having the injection but I did not experience a huge improvement in the cuff."

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