Cortisone Injections: What are they and how do they help?

Cortisone Injections: What are they and how do they help? - Invigorate Health and Performance

Living with chronic joint pain can significantly impact one’s quality of life, hindering everyday activities and limiting mobility. Cortisone injections are a popular and effective treatment option for people suffering from conditions causing knee pain, shoulder pain or even lower back pain.

In this blog, we will discuss cortisone injections, exploring how they work to alleviate inflammation and pain, where and how they are administered, the role of physiotherapy in the recovery process, and the importance of a rehabilitation program after getting the injection as it is not the fix but an alternative option to assist other modes of intervention.

Understanding Cortisone Injections

Cortisone injections, also known as corticosteroid injections, are a minimally invasive treatment option for managing joint pain and inflammation. These injections contain a synthetic version of cortisone, a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisone acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, effectively reducing swelling, pain and discomfort in the affected joint or tendon.

How Cortisone Injections Work

Cortisone injections work by suppressing the immune response and inhibiting the release of inflammatory substances within the affected joint. When inflammation is reduced, pain is alleviated and joint function can be restored. It’s important to note that cortisone injections offer temporary relief and are often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as physiotherapy, to address the underlying causes of joint pain.

Injection Sites: Joints, Tendons, and Bursae

Cortisone injections can be administered directly into the joint space, tendon, or bursae, depending on the specific condition being treated. Common injection sites include the knee, shoulder, hip, and lower back. The choice of injection site is determined by the location of the pain and the underlying condition.

When to Seek Physiotherapy After a Cortisone Injection

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation process following a cortisone injection. It’s generally recommended to wait a few days after the injection before beginning physiotherapy. This waiting period allows the cortisone to take effect and reduces the risk of aggravating the affected area. Typically, patients may start physiotherapy sessions 5-7 days after the injection, but the exact timing should be discussed with your physiotherapist.

Expectations from Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy after a cortisone injection is tailored to each individuals needs and the specific condition being treated. Your physiotherapist will assess your range of motion, muscle strength, and overall mobility. The physiotherapy program may include:

  • Range of Motion Exercises: Gentle movements to improve joint flexibility and prevent stiffness.
  • Strengthening Exercises: Targeted exercises to strengthen muscles around the affected area, providing better support and stability.
  • Functional Training: Activities that mimic daily tasks to enhance joint function and improve overall functionality.
  • Pain Management Techniques: Manual therapies, such as soft tissue mobilisation and joint manipulation, to alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • Education and Lifestyle Modifications: Guidance on proper body mechanics, posture, and lifestyle modifications to prevent future pain episodes.

Conditions Assisted by Cortisone Injections

Cortisone injections can provide relief for various conditions, including:

  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursae (fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints).
  • Tendinopathy: Degeneration or overuse of tendons.
  • Arthritis: Inflammatory joint conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Injuries to muscles, tendons, or ligaments.

The Importance of Rehabilitation

Completing a physiotherapy-guided rehabilitation program is crucial to achieving long-term pain relief and preventing the recurrence of joint pain. By strengthening muscles, improving flexibility and learning proper movement techniques, individuals can reduce the strain on the affected joint and minimize the risk of future injuries.

Cortisone injections offer a valuable solution for managing joint pain and inflammation, providing temporary relief while underlying issues are addressed. When combined with physiotherapy and a comprehensive rehabilitation program, individuals can enhance their joint function, improve their quality of life and reduce the likelihood of recurrent pain.

Remember, consulting a healthcare professional is essential before pursuing any treatment, and following their guidance can lead to a successful recovery journey.

Written by Nicholas Dimos (Physiotherapist)