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The Risks of Cortisone Injections

written by: AlyssaAst • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 4/5/2011

Although cortisone shots can help manage pain, they also produce some side effects and there are risks of further complications.

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    Cortisone injections are administered into the soft tissues of joints to help people manage pain and swelling associated with painful joint conditions. Arthritis sufferers may choose this form of treatment to help manage the pain associated with the condition.

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    By: clarita
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    Cortisone Injections

    Cortisone shots are not designed to be a pain reliever, but are capable of relieving pain because they reduce inflammation. Once inflammation is relieved, pain is often reduced. Cortisone shots are not a permanent solution to joint pain and inflammation and need to be administered regularly to continuously manage pain and inflammation.

    Cortisone injections can be used to treat a number of conditions. The most common conditions cortisone shots are used for are arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The shots can also be given to help with bursitis and tendinitis. Positive results are produced when cortisone injections are used for these conditions.

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    Short Term Side Effects

    Although cortisone shots can be very beneficial, they can cause certain side effects. Short term side effects are the most common risks of cortisone injections. The skin around the injection site can become temporarily discolored and shrink. There is also a risk of a bacterial infection at the site of injection. Light bleeding and soreness are also common to occur at the injection site. Tendons can become weakened and even rupture after a cortisone injection.

    Cortisone shots can temporarily raise a diabetic’s blood sugar levels. People with weak immune systems or underlying health conditions are more susceptible to becoming ill. People with blood clotting disorders are often advised not to use these shots because of possible complications.

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    Long Term Side Effects

    Long term side effects of frequent and prolonged cortisone injections can cause the skin to thin. The body may begin to bruise easily. The face can become puffy and weight gain is possible. Cataracts can begin to form, as well as osteoporosis. The bones associated to the joints, where the shots are injected, can become damaged. Blood pressure can be elevated from cortisone injections also.

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    Rare Side Effects

    Rare side effects can be risks of cortisone injections. After repeated injections, joint infections can occur. The tissues of the joint can become damaged after repeated injections in the same site. The cartilage can begin to thin and weaken the ligaments. The cortisone shots can begin to crystallize in the joint and cause further inflammation and pain, resulting in an infection.These complications are rare but still remain a possibility.

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    References:

    “Cortisone Injection of Soft Tissue and Joints” By Brunilda Nazario, MD December 22, 2008 WebMD.com


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