Joint injections are both therapeutic and diagnostic. By initially injecting numbing medication into painful joints, patients can tell their doctor how much pain relief they experience. This diagnostic aspect of joint injections also helps rule out or confirm if the joint is indeed the source of pain. An injection of cortisone/steroid into joints causing pain then helps reduce inflammation so that patients may enjoy long-term pain relief and improved range of motion.
What are Cortisone/Steroid Injections?
Cortisone is a lab-made form of cortisol, a steroidal hormone produced by the adrenal gland. When the body is under physical or psychological stress, the adrenal gland releases large amounts of cortisol into your bloodstream to help the body cope with stress. Cortisol and cortisone are anti-inflammatory substances that suppress your immune system's response to stress and infection by decreasing inflammation within irritated soft tissues.
An effective type of orthopedic treatment, steroid/cortisone injections are injected directly into joints suffering inflammatory pain. Cortisone is not a pain-relieving medication but works to alleviate pain by suppressing inflammation and calming overactive nerves. Cortisone does not heal the cause of the inflammation.
Most people receiving cortisone/steroid injections report feeling pain relief immediately. Some report a gradual lessening of pain over a period of hours or days. Severe inflammation that has been chronic and ongoing may take longer to respond to cortisone/steroid injections.
Conditions Treated with Cortisone/Steroid Injections
Inflammation of the bursa is called bursitis, a painful condition caused by injury, a rheumatic condition or, more rarely, infection. Joints affected by bursitis are the knees, elbows, hips and shoulders. Swelling, tenderness and pain are initial symptoms of bursitis that can be aggravated by exercising because the damaged bursa are not able to lubricate joints properly. Treatment for bursitis (not related to rheumatic disease or infection) includes ice packs, cortisone injections and resting the affected joints.
Also referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) occurs because of the break down in knee, hip, finger and spinal joint cartilage. The shoulders, wrists and elbows seem to be less affected by OA but can still suffer from OA. Cartilage breakdown is commonly caused by repeated past injuries to joints. Symptoms of OA include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness following inactive periods (such as waking up in the morning) and intense inflammation after using the injured joint. You might even feel or hear the sound of bone rubbing against bone during physical activity if joints are affected by OA.
Strains and Sprains
Simple overuse of muscles may be the cause of recurring joint pain. When treatment consisting of "RICE" — rest, ice, compression and elevation — fails to relieve pain, schedule an appointment at Southern Pain Clinic to discuss cortisone/steroid injections for strain and sprain joint pain relief.
Other pain conditions treated with cortisone injections include:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Rotator cuff tendinitis/impingement syndrome
- Frozen shoulder
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Southern Pain Clinic is here to help you develop an effective, long-term pain management program. Call today to learn more about pain-relieving cortisone/steroid injections.