There are plenty of reasons you may experience knee pain. If it persists, one of the treatment options is a cortisone injection. This type of injection is also done in other areas of the body, always in joints, such as the shoulder, wrist, spine, hip, elbow, ankle, or even smaller joints in the feet and hands. Before getting a cortisone injection for your knee pain, there are a few essential things you should know.
What Is in the Cortisone Injection?
Although it can vary, most cortisone injections will have two main components. A corticosteroid or similar medication will hopefully provide your knee with long-term pain relief, but that relief does not start instantly. Most injections also include a local anesthetic to provide instant relief, at least for a little bit.
Knee Pain Causes That May Require Injections
As mentioned, knee pain can occur because of several reasons. Cortisone injections for knee pain are commonly used for treating arthritis, including reactive, psoriatic, rheumatoid, overuse knee injuries, work-related injuries, and osteoarthritis. They can also help treat tendonitis, gout, and bursitis.
In the case of arthritis, doctors typically only suggest cortisone injections if three or fewer joints are seriously affected. Your doctor is unlikely to give you injections for more joints than this at once and will likely suggest a different treatment.
Can Anyone Have a Cortisone Injection for Knee Pain?
Both children and adults can have cortisone injections to relieve knee pain. However, there are a few situations in which you should not have the injection, or your doctor may suggest waiting.
If you have any allergies to the injection’s ingredients, you will not be able to safely have it. Your doctor may also suggest avoiding hydrocortisone and certain other cortisone injections if you have a family history of manic depression or depression. If you were recently vaccinated, have an infection, are pregnant, or have potentially come into contact with measles, chickenpox, or shingles, you will have to wait for the shot.
What to Expect From a Cortisone Injection
The results following a cortisone injection vary from person to person. Some people may not experience any relief. Most people will experience an increase in inflammation and pain for two days after the shot. At that point, both inflammation and pain should start to decrease, and you may enjoy that relief for months. It is common for pain relief to last around six to 12 weeks.
The Procedure for Getting a Cortisone Injection
Your doctor will clean the area before giving you the cortisone injection. Fluoroscopy, which is a type of X-ray or ultrasound, will help guide the needle. You should only feel a bit of pressure when your doctor inserts the needle. There should be no significant discomfort, though
After you get the injection, you will likely have to stay in the doctor’s office for at least a half-hour to watch for any side effects. This is also a safety precaution because the local anesthetic’s numbing effects will make it hard to walk.
The Next Few Days
In the days following your cortisone injection, you will be asked to take it easy. You should do your best to avoid being on your feet, as you do not want to stress the area. It would be best if you also avoid hot tubs and bathtubs, but you can safely shower. If the knee pain reoccurs in the few days after the shot, use ice instead of heat.
Common Side Effects
The most common side effects are swelling and pain at the injection site, both of which should disappear within a few days. It is also possible to experience bruising on your knee, which should also disappear in several days.
How Frequently Can You Have Cortisone Injections
One crucial thing to know is that you cannot have cortisone injections too frequently. The Mayo Clinic recommendations say you should not get the injections more often than three to four times in a year or closer together than six weeks.
The other factor to keep in mind is that cortisone injections can become less effective when you use them more frequently, and they tend to be the most effective the first time.
Potential Side Effects
The limited use of cortisone injections is due to the risks associated with it, especially because they increase the more injections you get and the larger the dose of medication included in them. Typical doses for hydrocortisone, a common cortisone injection, range from 5 to 50 milligrams.
We already touched on common side effects. Some less common side effects can include joint infection, damage to cartilage, nearby bone death, nerve damage, osteoporosis, tendon weakening, changing to skin color by the injection, thinning of the skin by the injection, and/or temporary blood sugar increase, facial flushing, or increased inflammation and pain by the injection. It is also possible for hydrocortisone injections to weaken your immune system, increasing your risk of infections.
Call Us Today For A Consultation
Our medical staff is experienced in diagnosing and treating knee injuries and pain. Our multi-disciplinary practice in Brooklyn, NY, includes the following specialists: orthopedist, neurologist, pain management doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and more.
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