The Complications Of Cortisone Injections

Firstly what is a cortisone injection and how does it work?

Cortisone is a steroid anti-inflammatory drug which is injected into areas of inflammation and pain (commonly tendons and joint spaces). Cortisone works to reduce inflammation more quickly than other forms of medication or inflammation management strategies. Cortisone injections aren’t usually the first point of call for treatment as they do carry an element of risk and adverse side effects. Some of the side effects can include:

  • Infection: can occur at the injection site. This risk is reduced with proper sterilisation of both the needle and the injection site.
  • Tissue death: cortisone is not good for some types of soft tissues such as tendons and cartilage. People may experience weakened and/or ruptured tendons, cartilage softening and nerve damage at the incision site.
  • Cortisone reaction: a very small percentage of patients may experience a “flare up” which causes crystallisation in the joint resulting in a lot of pain.
  • Osteonecrosis (bone death): repeated cortisone injections can cause osteoporosis (bone thinning) and osteoneocrosis (bone death).
  • Increased blood sugar: cortisone can cause a spike in blood sugar, however this is only relevant to people with predisposing conditions such as diabetes.
  • Cushing’s Syndrome: individuals predisposed to high levels of cortisol who are injected multiple times over a period of time are at risk of bruising, bony weakness, increased hair growth and infertility.
  • Whitening/lightening of skin: around the injection site.
  • Less Commonly: headaches, nausea, dizziness, insomnia and mood changes

Every patient is different – some experience pain relief from cortisone injections and some experience none. It is best to have your injury assessed by a qualified Physiotherapist and doctor before going down the path of a cortisone injection. If you’re concerned about an ongoing injury be sure to book an appointment with one of our Physiotherapists at Bend + Mend in Sydney’s CBD. We have three locations in the CBD for your convenience.

 

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