Cortisone shots have been used for decades. In years past, it was thought that there was no real harm or risk involved in having a steroid injection. There have always been side effects such as dizziness, headaches, trouble sleeping, mood swings, or weight gain but no long term effects identified. According to a new report, cortisone injections may have more serious side effects than previously reported such as damage to the joints as well as other serious dangers.
Steroid injections have effectively been used in treating conditions such as back pain, bursitis, gout, osteoarthritis, lupus and tendonitis. Osteoarthritis (OA) alone affects nearly 5 million Canadians (1 in 6). When medications, physiotherapy and lifestyle no longer work, doctors will often try a cortisone injection to treat the pain. Although this does not cure the problem, it can be a temporary fix to mitigate pain and swelling to avoid more extreme measures such as surgery. It can also give you the opportunity to rehabilitate the affected area by reducing the swelling to allow for easier ability to strengthen the joint and surrounding muscles.
Although cortisone has many benefits, there have been more recent concerns identified with regards to knee and hip osteoarthritis. Some of those include: Rapidly progressive osteoarthritis, subchondral insufficiency ie. a type of stress fracture, osteonecrosis – when bone tissue dies, or causing a delay in surgery. The study recently done could not provide an exact explanation why these things occur, however, it was thought that the anesthetic that is combined with the injection could be toxic to the cartilage. More studies would be needed to understand the full effects.
The list of side effects from cortisone shots can be long and exhaustive, however, the advantages can be significant. It is important to discuss all of the pros and cons with your doctor prior to having one, especially if they are required multiple times or if a surgery may be in the near future.