Cortisone Shots in the Shoulder for Pain | AllSpine
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Cortisone Shot in the Shoulder

Shoulder Pain Relief

If you suffer from shoulder pain associated with common shoulder ailments, you may have considered injections as part of your pain management treatment plan. Doctors usually advise conservative approaches such as physical therapy or injections before recommending surgery to their patients.

What is a cortisone shot and how do they treat shoulder pain?

Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can be injected into the shoulder area to help treat a variety of shoulder conditions, including tendinitis, bursitis, rotator cuff impingement or tear, frozen shoulder, and degenerative or inflammatory arthritis. These injections are readily available and can be administered in your doctor’s office.

Is cortisone a steroid?

Cortisone is an artificial steroid that has a similar effect on the body as cortisol, which is a naturally occurring hormone in your body. Cortisone is different from anabolic steroids, which attempt to replicate the effects of testosterone on the body. Cortisone is a type of corticosteroid, which are a powerful medication to reduce inflammation. Other examples of corticosteroids include prednisone, methylprednisolone, triamcinolone and others. These types of steroids can be taken by mouth, applied to the skin, given intravenously or injected into body tissue.

How are cortisone injections administered?

We inject the cortisone under sterile conditions after applying a numbing spray to the site. No anesthesia is required. There may be slight burning or pressure. We give the injection with the use of ultrasound imaging, which allows us to visualize the tissue on a monitor in order to allow for a more precise injection procedure. Most patients are pleasantly surprised that it is not a painful procedure.

Cortisone Injections for Shoulder Inflammation Relief

Cortisone injections offer quick, easy and safe relief for inflammation. It should be noted that the shots themselves are not pain relievers. The cortisone lowers inflammation, which is something that can alleviate pain. Some are considered temporary solutions, although some cortisone shots successfully treat shoulder pain permanently.

How long does a cortisone shot take to work?

Cortisone injections can take about 5 days to be fully effective. Though some patients feel immediate shoulder pain relief, the time can vary from a few days to a couple weeks. The reason for this discrepancy in effectiveness will be the different factors contributing to the shoulder pain, or other factors unique to each patient.

What if a cortisone shot doesn’t work?

A steroid injection might not work, but why is that? If inflammation is not the underlying problem, an anti-inflammatory steroid won’t do much in terms of pain relief. Alternatively, it’s possible it could take up to a few weeks or the cortisone shot to have the proper pain managing effects, so if it’s only been a few days there’s a chance the injection will work after a bit more time. If it hasn’t had any effect after a few weeks, you should talk to your doctor to see what other possible treatments might be useful.

Pain after a Steroid Injection in the Shoulder

One of the possible side effects of a cortisone injection is called a cortisone flare, or a steroid flare. This is associated with pain at the injection site, particularly early on. The pain can show up immediately, or within a day or two of having the injection done. The cause of a steroid flare is the make up of a corticosteroid, which is made of slow-release crystals to give you lasting pain relief. However, in some people this can irritate your joint which causes pain at the injection area. Not everyone has a cortisone flare, and they can be managed by your doctor.

Cortisone Injection Shoulder Recovery Time

After you have a shoulder steroid shot you should avoid using your shoulder for at least the next couple days. Avoid swimming or soaking the shot area in water, and take showers rather than baths for at least a few days after getting the shot. After 5 days you should be able to resume normal activities.

Exercise after Cortisone Injection in the Shoulder

The main purpose of a cortisone injection in the shoulder is to provide pain relief and stop the area from being inflamed, so that exercise can be used to strengthen and stabilize the area. You’ll want to wait at least 24 hours before exercising, or if a cortisone flare has occurred, until the pain has completely subsided. Your doctor or physical therapist can guide you in the recovery process, and generally you should start with gentle exercise and slowly increase in intensity based on what you can do.

PRP Injection of the Shoulder

Platelet Rich Plasma, also called PRP, is sourced from your own blood and put through a centrifuge to separate the platelet rich parts of your plasma. Since it’s from your own body, PRP treatments are low risk with few complications or side effects, and can be effective as pain management and to help stimulate healing. PRP treatments for shoulder pain are another type of shoulder injection that can be helpful in dealing with things like partial rotator cuff tears, and shoulder arthritis. For arthritis, PRP therapy can be an effective treatment and mitigate symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and swelling. It also helps slow the progression of arthritis.

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