Do I need a cortisone injection?
Have you got a current pain or injury? Have you been seeing your Physio, but not making progress as fast as you want? Maybe a friend has mentioned that a cortisone injection helped their own injury.
Let’s go through all the info you need about cortisone injections, so you can make an informed decision.
PS yes, we are Physios, so we believe cortisone injections are just one part of the picture, and yes you still need to do your exercises!
It seems cortisone injections are becoming more common, and more and more people are experiencing the benefits that you can get from one of these injections.
Firstly, what is a cortisone injection?
Cortisone is a corticosteroid injection, given directly into the joint or soft tissue that is causing pain. This medication is a powerful anti-inflammatory, that can give fast relief from inflamed muscles, joints, tendons and bursas.
Cortisone is often given alongside a local anaesthetic, giving very fast and significant pain relief. Part of this pain relief is thanks to the local anaesthetic, and only has an effect for up to a few hours.
Research suggests that injecting tendons with cortisone can lead to degeneration in that tendon in the future. Therefore it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of cortisone injections.
When is a cortisone injection given?
Cortisone is often prescribed when an injury is:
- Causing significant pain
- Slow to improve, or
- Continues for a long period of time, such as in long term back pai
It’s often used in:
- Shoulder or hip bursitis
- Long term back pain
- Long term knee or ankle pain.
It may be given as the only treatment, hoping the single injection will be all it needs. We find this is only effective in some cases (but not often). Generally just implementing an cortisone injection alone doesn’t address the underlying issues, so tends to be short term, temporary relief only.
From our experience, a cortisone injection has greater long term benefits when combined with Physiotherapy. Your Physiotherapist can assess your injury, and identify underlying issues, such as weakness, tightness, or modified movement patterns. If these are not addresses, the irritated structure will become irritate again, soon after the cortisone has worn off.
Will a cortisone injection help me?
This ‘quick jab’ can be a tempting option, particularly when you’re still in pain after weeks, or months. Speak to your GP first if cortisone sounds like something you might need.
From the physiotherapist perspective, here’s my rule of thumb when considering a cortisone injection (Please note: Seek individual medical advice for your specific injury):
If the injury happened because of a sudden trauma e.g. car accident or a fall, then cortisone on it’s own may be helpful.
If the injury happened in ANY OTHER WAY, including gradual onset pain or injury, then cortisone on it’s own may provide some short term relief for a few weeks or months only. We find that the injury will keep coming back until you address the reason the injury started in the first place.
Often commencing Physiotherapy treatment first, and starting your rehabilitation exercises can set you up for the best outcome. You’ll already have gained some progress before the cortisone injection, allowing it to have greatest effect.
In some cases, once we commence Physio rehabilitation, you might feel so much better that you don’t even need the cortisone injection at all! Winning!
Your pain can lead to compensations
If your pain has been there for more than 4 weeks, you will likely have some compensations as you move differently to avoid the pain. You may have been walking or moving differently, leading to loss of strength or mobility.
Therefore, regardless of your decision to seek out cortisone or not, you will likely still need the support of your Physiotherapist to overcome these compensations. Your Physiotherapist can guide you through recovering from these changes, and avoiding further issues.
Do you have an ache that just keeps coming back? Our physiotherapists work closely with many clients with long term injuries, and can guide you back to feeling great. You can book in to see one of our physiotherapists by clicking the ‘Book now’ button
Physio near me? Aspire Physiotherapy Glenelg Adelaide