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Cortisone shots

Are Cortisone Injections Safe

Cortisone shots are injections that can help relieve pain and inflammation in a specific area of your body. They’re most commonly injected into joints — such as your ankle, elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, spine or wrist. Even the small joints in your hands or feet might benefit from cortisone shots.

The injections usually contain a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic. Often, you can receive one at your doctor’s office. Because of potential side effects, the number of shots you can get in a year generally is limited.

Why it’s done

Cortisone shot might be most effective in treating inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be part of treatment for other conditions, including:

  • Back pain
  • Bursitis
  • Gout
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tendinitis

Risks

Potential side effects of cortisone shots increase with larger doses and repeated use. Side effects can include:

  • Cartilage damage
  • Death of nearby bone
  • Joint infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Temporary facial flushing
  • Temporary flare of pain and inflammation in the joint
  • Temporary increase in blood sugar
  • Tendon weakening or rupture
  • Thinning of nearby bone (osteoporosis)
  • Thinning of skin and soft tissue around the injection site
  • Whitening or lightening of the skin around the injection site

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