What is a corticosteroid injection?
Corticosteroid (or cortisone) is a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine that can be directly administered into the inflamed tissues causing your pain. It is safer than taking anti-inflammatories by mouth. It is not the same as the illegal steroids taken by bodybuilders and athletes.
What are the benefits?
Cortisone can help relive pain, stiffness and swelling within 7-10 days of an injection. This is important for patients that are struggling to engage in rehabilitation due to high pain levels. Cortisone injections can also be very useful to help diagnose the cause of your pain.
What conditions are steroid injections useful for?
What at the alternatives?
Physiotherapy is often an effective alternative, alongside lifestyle changes. Oral anti-inflammatories can be used and as a last resort, surgery is sometimes required.
What happens during the injection?
A diagnostic ultrasound scan will locate the specific area to be injected. The skin will be thoroughly cleaned and the needle will be guided precisely into the inflamed area. The procedure is not particularly painful.
What happens after the injection?
You will be asked to wait for 20 minutes in the waiting room to ensure there are no reactions to the steroid. You will then be reviewed in the clinic after 3 weeks. The steroid can take up to 4 weeks for full effect. If you have any concerns, please contact the clinic at any time.
What are the risks?
The risks are very rare, but include an allergic reaction to the steroid medication, infection (as with any type of injection) and a temporary 24 hour increase in pain.