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When Would I Need a Cortisone Injection?

Pain in your joints, muscles, or soft connective tissue is often due to or exacerbated by inflammation. When you have an injury, your body's natural healing response sends a flood of blood, nutrients, and other chemicals into your injured tissue. This causes inflammation, pain, and swelling. Inflammation also makes your skin red or warm to touch. 

Our team of talented orthopedic surgeons here at Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, offers cortisone injections to reduce your pain. They're a critical part of multi-disciplinary treatment programs for a variety of painful upper extremity conditions.

What is cortisone?

Cortisone is a synthetic hormone that mimics cortisol, a hormone produced by your adrenal glands. Cortisol and other corticosteroids suppress your body's immunologic responses, including inflammation and swelling. 

Cortisone injections deliver this powerful medication directly into your damaged tissue, where it reduces inflammation and swelling. As your inflammation subsides, your pain also goes away, and your range of motion and mobility improve. 

It's important to remember that cortisone injections only relieve your inflammation — they don't heal the condition or injury that's causing your pain. That's why cortisone shots are part of broader treatment plans that include procedures or physical therapy to address the root cause of your pain.

Conditions that improve with cortisone injections

Our team includes cortisone injections in treatment plans for a wide range of conditions, including:

While cortisone injections relieve your pain, they can make it easier for you to cope with your day-to-day activities and have other treatments to heal your injury. Also, in some cases, cortisone injections can alleviate your discomfort enough that you can avoid surgery and other invasive procedures. 

What to expect during a cortisone injection

Cortisone injections are minimally-invasive outpatient procedures. When you have a cortisone injection, our team cleans your skin with an antiseptic. In some cases, we provide a local anesthetic and use a needle to extract some fluid before making your cortisone injected. 

Usually, a cortisone injection includes lidocaine or another local anesthetic, as well as the corticosteroid. The lidocaine provides immediate pain relief while the steroid takes effect. 

What to expect after a cortisone injection

Everyone responds slightly differently to cortisone injections. In many cases, your inflammation and pain subside within a couple of days, although some patients have more rapid or slow responses. The relief can last for several weeks, and some patients find that just one injection can provide permanent relief. 

Some patients experience a cortisone flare — a temporary increase of pain for a couple of days. Medical researchers believe it's due to the cortisone crystallizing in your body after injection. You might also experience some discoloration around the injection site. If you have diabetes, a cortisone injection can cause a temporary spike in your blood sugar. 

If you have a painful upper extremity injury or degenerative condition that's interfering with your life, call us or make an appointment online for expert diagnosis and personalized treatment, including cortisone injections. 

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