What is cortisone?

Cortisone is a naturally occurring hormone that your body secretes every day. It helps you regulate reaction to physical and mental stress, and helps to decrease inflammation.

What is a steroid?

Steroids are groups of hormones that include cortisone. Most of the orthopedic injections given today are different types of steroids, but they are still called “cortisone” injections.

Do cortisone shots cause side effects?

When injected into joint, soft tissues or spinal area, moderate doses of cortisone are safe and will not give you soft bones, high blood pressure, a round face, or make you gain weight. It can increase glucose levels temporarily in diabetics. Four to six cortisone shots per year can be safely given.

How is cortisone given?

Cortisone can be given by mouth or by injection.

Cortisone is given by mouth for asthma, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other long-term, severe illnesses. When it is given by mouth over long periods of time, side effects can occur.

Injections of cortisone are used to treat arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, fasciitis, and synovitis. Also, soft tissue inflammations are often successfully treated with a shot in the area.

Cortisone shots are given for inflammation, NOT infection. The inflammation may be secondary to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, trauma, torn cartilage or other problems.

What should I do after I get a cortisone shot?

After a cortisone shot, it is best to:

  • Rest the area of infection for a few days even though you feel much better.
  • Apply ice to the affected area three times daily for a few days. Cover the ice pack with a towel to prevent ice burns to your skin. Apply the ice for ten minutes each time.
  • If you are not taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as Celebrex, Naproxen or Relafen, take two Ecotrin (coated aspirin) twice a day.

In rare instances, more pain can occur after a cortisone injection. This is called a steroid flare or crystal reaction. The good news is that it will be better in 12 to 18 hours.

Booster Shots: The Express Lane

If you don’t get adequate relief in a week, give our office a call and ask about a booster shot. Very often a second shot can solve the problem.

Activities: Motion is Lotion!

Days of inactivity will increase joint stiffness and make it harder to move around. For your knees and hips, several short walks are better than one long walk. An exercise bicycle is good if the tension is off and the seat is high. Swimming is one of the best ways to get the exercise you need. In water, you can enjoy a pain-free, full-body workout without stress on your sensitive joints or soft tissues.


If you are not already taking an anti-inflammatory prescription, we recommend at least two five-grain Ecotrin tablets (easier on the stomach than plain aspirin) three times a day after.

Tylenol is not as effective for inflammation but is a good pain reliever.

Reach out to us at Full Circle Orthopedics for more information about cortisone.