The Truth about Cortisone Shots
The stories regarding the dangers of cortisone come from years ago when it was first introduced and it was used in larger doses (the consequences were not yet recognized). Cortisone, in shot and pill form, is a valuable treatment tool for a wide variety of conditions. Many people have fears about its use, some of which may be justified. Today, with a careful assessment of the benefits, cortisone is a very useful and effective tool in any orthopaedic practice.
Learn More about Epidural Cortisone Shots
What is cortisone?
It is a hormone produced by a small gland on top of the kidney called the adrenal gland. It is essential to the proper functioning of your body, particularly when under stress. Its absence is known as Addison's Disease, which without treatment is fatal. Cortisone is a normal body product therefore; there are no allergic reactions. In cases of people with severe allergies, it is one of our most effective treatment tools. Cortisone by itself is rarely used today as it is relatively short acting and of low potency. Semi-artificial cortisone derivatives, such as DepoMedrol, Celestone, Kenalog, and a number of others, are used with increased benefits and fewer side effects.
How is cortisone effective?
Cortisone is useful in suppressing inflammation in the short term, and in the long term, dissolving scar tissue, stabilizing the body's defenses, speeding the healing process, and is very effective in causing certain cysts to disappear. It does however, have a weakening effect on tendons if injected directly into them. It can also soften cartilage when injected into a joint. (Information comes from experiments on animals and not human beings.)
How many injections are needed?
In spite of surrounding folklore, there is no specific limit to the number of cortisone shots that can be given. Practical concerns are, if the shot does not work, then why repeat it? If it does work, cortisone is extremely effective and not too many shots are needed. There is a limit to the amount of cortisone given in one dose, even if injected in several areas of the body; this varies depending on the size and physical condition of the person.