When you’re suffering from ongoing joint pain, whether it’s in your shoulder, lower back, or knee, all you want is relief. Depending on how frequent and severe your pain is, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid or hydrocortisone injection into the affected joint. That’s because cortisol is known to significantly reduce inflammation, which is why this synthetic form of cortisone is often used to treat chronic pain.
But because cortisone injections are so powerful, it’s only natural to wonder whether their repeated use is safe. Here’s what you should know …
Weighing the Safety of Cortisone Shots
The effects of a cortisone injection into a painful joint are local, as opposed to systemic. That means it only affects the treated area, not the entire body. This is worth noting since oral forms of hydrocortisone can affect immune function, weight, and adrenal health.
Localized hydrocortisone shots are effective at reducing inflammation and, thus, treating joint pain. Administered by a trained orthopedist, these injections can help preserve tissue threatened by continuous inflammation.
Nevertheless, cortisone injections do come with certain risks you should be aware of. For example, a steroid injection could potentially cause an infection that could damage joint tissue. In addition, cortisol has been found to promote the loss of collagen, the structural protein in various connective tissues in your body. That can lead to the breakdown of tissue, tendon rupture, or skin discoloration.
Cortisone injections are only a temporary pain-relieving solution as reducing inflammation doesn’t address the root of your joint problems. Plus, steroids, hydrocortisone, and corticosteroids are a synthetic form of cortisone. They mimic a natural hormone that your body releases in response to stress, but they can also affect your body’s blood sugar and blood pressure regulation and your immune system suppression if overused.
Are there alternatives to cortisone injections? Before you take the shot, consider these tips that can improve your joint health.
- Reduce your sugar intake. Sugar can cause stiff joints when consumed in excess and feeds joint injections.
- Eliminate any foods that affect your immune response. A blood test can help identify some of the foods you may be sensitive to, while your body will signal other inflammation triggers such as fried foods, processed meats, or refined grains.
- Maintain good digestive function. Your body needs a sufficient amount of enzymes to properly break down food and fight both infection and autoimmune disease. You can heal your digestive function with food-based enzymes that include fermented foods (e.g., pickles, sauerkraut,), pineapple, papaya, avocado, raw honey, coconut oil, and raw dairy.
So, should you consider a cortisone injection if you are in pain? Yes, but only while you and your doctor get to the root of your joint problem. And remember, if you should get a cortisone injection, you may feel great, but mind not to overdo it. Cortisone treats pain, not damage or injury.
If you have joint pain or swelling, an orthopedic physician can help diagnose and treat your injury to prevent further harm. At Spectrum Orthopaedics in North Canton, our experienced providers offer the latest in diagnostic techniques to ensure prompt care. We can discuss with you whether or not cortisone injections are an appropriate option for your specific needs, and guide to regain strength and wellness. Call (330) 305-0838 for an appointment today.