Cortisone is a steroid hormone used to treat a variety of conditions. It suppresses the immune system, which can help reduce inflammation and any pain and swelling that may be at the site of an injury. Doctors might use it to treat something like muscle or joint pain, as it can suppress localized inflammation for anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. However, in the long term, it does have some consequences.
If you take it orally, cortisone can have potential systemic side-effects, including hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, osteoporosis, cataracts, fluid retention, memory problems, weight gain, and glaucoma. If inhaled, it could cause a fungal infection in the mouth or result in hoarseness. If used topically, the cortisone could lead to thin skin, red lesions, and acne. And, if injected, cortisone can cause thin skin, loss of color in the skin, facial flushing, insomnia, and high blood sugar.
Long term use is typically not recommended, largely as a result of the extensive side effects. For better, long-term relief, many physicians will recommend physical therapy to stretch and strengthen, muscles, joints, and other soft tissues. Other lifestyle changes could be recommended as well, such as weight loss or changing footwear. These other treatments can often improve a joint’s biomechanics and possibly decrease pain or eliminate the need for cortisone shots altogether.
Those who do get cortisone shots to treat joint pain may eventually notice the periods of relief become shorter and shorter over time. This shortening isn’t due to tolerance to the medication but is rather the result of the joint degrading. Physical therapy, weight loss, and changes in lifestyle might be recommended to slow down or stop this degradation.
Likewise, cortisone shots can take a few days to take effect. After the injection, your doctor may advise you to rest and cut down on regular activities. Once your joint pain is relieved, you may be tempted to resume your typical activities; however, the damage is still there, just masked. Your doctor will likely advise you to continue physical activity gradually and add intensity over time.
If you’d like help creating a physical therapy routine tailored specifically to you, don’t hesitate to give us a call. ProFysio Physical Therapy is one of the premier providers of physical rehabilitation in New Jersey, and we are the only fellowship trained therapists in Monmouth County. Let us see what we can do for you. Call us at (732) 333-6360 to schedule a free initial consultation today.