Cortisone Shots Side Effects

Cortisone shots side effects are not common and are more likely to happen with repeated cortisone shots. Cortisone shots are injected into joints to relieve pain. Although they are used to treat professional athletes they are also a treatment for those just getting through their normal lives. Cortisone side effects are usually mild and temporary but some risks are more substantial. Due to this, the number of shots that can be given are usually limited.

  1. Pain. Some patients experience an increase in pain immediately after the cortisone shots. The pain usually last only for a day or two after the injection. Usually an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen is recommended for temporary relief.
  2. Bone damage.  Cortisone shots carry the risk of thinning the bone near the injection site. This condition known as osteoporosis can result in bones that fracture easily. Another type of bone damage from cortisone shots is osteonecrosis. With this condition, a poor blood supply can cause the death of the bone tissue.
  3. Joint infection. This is an uncommon complication from cortisone shots. But it can occur if any bacteria are introduced through the injection site. The sign of a joint infection is a high fever, redness and swelling around the injection site, or drainage from the site.
  4. Skin and soft tissue injury. Skin surrounding the injection site can change color due to cortisone shots. Especially for those with dark skin, the skin may appear lighter or even white. The skin around the area can become thinner as well. Fatty tissue may also atrophy, causing pain when walking due to the lack of cushioning.
  5. Tendon damage. Although not completely understood, a tendon rupture is a risk from a cortisone injection. Legendary hoopster Wilt Chamberlain suffered from this complication. Usually this complication is the result of repeated cortisone injections. Ones theory is that an athlete, for example, may use the joint too intensely right after the injection, causing an injury.  
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