When Injections Are the Way to Go

Surgery to relieve pain should always be the last treatment option. That’s the goal of our pain management strategies at Urgent Orthopedic Specialists. But sometimes physical therapy or the ongoing use of oral pain medication isn’t working. In these cases, corticosteroid injections may be effective.

Injections can provide longer lasting relief from pain and inflammation than oral medications, and they don’t have the same risks of addiction and other side effects. Plus, by direct injection Dr. Floyd, Dr. Rowland, and Dr. Liesman can be sure the targeted inflammation is reached.

What is cortisone?

While you may not have heard of the term corticosteroid, you’ve surely heard of cortisone. They are one in the same. Cortisone is very effective for treating joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. It can also be effective for helping pain caused by strained or overworked tendons, bridging the time it takes for the tendon to heal.

People confuse corticosteroids with anabolic steroids, but they are not the same thing. Corticosteroids are man-made drugs that closely resemble cortisol, a hormone that your adrenal glands produce naturally. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. Produced by your adrenal glands, cortisol is best known for helping fuel your body’s “fight-or-flight” instinct in a crisis, but it has numerous other important roles, including reducing inflammation.

Anabolic steroids, in contrast, are steroid-related compounds made from male hormones such as testosterone. Corticosteroids simply work to reduce inflammation. They don’t have the testosterone effects of anabolic steroids, which build muscle mass and produce other changes in the body.

When injecting cortisone into a patient’s painful joint or tendon area, we may use imaging techniques such as ultrasound to ensure proper placement of the injection. Cortisone is typically also mixed with lidocaine to provide immediate pain relief to the area until the cortisone reduces the inflammation. This generally takes a couple of days. This can be initially disappointing for patients, as often their pain is worse for those first two or three days until the cortisone really begins to work on the inflammation.

Unfortunately, cortisone injections can’t reverse or stop the progression of joint damage. Also, they cannot be used as a long-term solution because they can contribute to cartilage damage. However, for some patients, one or two corticosteroid injections alleviate their tendonitis permanently.

If you have some chronic pain in a joint or a tendonitis issue, give us a call at Urgent Orthopedic Specialists. All you may need is a corticosteroid injection. Call us at (432) 520-3020.

Posted in: General Orthopedics

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