Updated: Apr 26
Cortisone shots were introduced in the 1940s for anti-inflammatory uses on several different areas of the body including joints for pain relief. It was mainly introduced as a relief shot for arthritis. Cortisone is basically a steroid and is active as an agent to convert proteins to carbohydrates. These shots are often limited use per year at the doctor’s office as the undesired amount can have several side effects.
Cortisone shots are injected in an area of the pain. According to Summit Ortho, “the injection shuts down collagen-producing cells in the tendon or joint”, which simply means that it calms the inflammation area and nerves, but doesn’t cure the problem completely. Even after taking the cortisone shots, the problems can return in a matter of weeks or months. It is not a permanent cure. These shots are generally covered under insurance, but sometimes it can vary depending on the case and the area where it is needed.
People often get confused about the areas where the cortisone shots work. Doctors can use it in many different areas of care such as:
Pain relief (In areas with arthritis/osteoarthritis)
Although the cortisone shot treatments can help get rid of the pain for a small amount of time, there are also disadvantages associated with it as well. The cortisone eats away at joints over time. The surrounding tissues can lose their level of function surrounding the area of injection. People who have diabetes should see a doctor before taking the shots because these shots can increase their sugar levels. Apart from that, there are some other long term effects as well such as thinning of skin and bone, tendon rupture, nerve damage, acne, weight gain, and tissue damage.
There are several alternatives in the market to replace the cortisone shots and one of them is stem cell therapy. Cortisone lasts for a temporary period whereas regenerative medicines can last for many years and people generally don’t need a second treatment. The stem cell rebuilds the cells while the cortisone damages the joints and bones. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments can also be used in harmony with stem cell treatments and while it might cost more than the cortisone does, it lasts longer and is not harming the patient’s body in any way. Before deciding what type of injection to use for your pain, you should first see your provider and ask about all of these options.
Cortisone Injections vs. PRP Injections For Pain