Cortisone Injections


This information sheet is intended for patients receiving a cortisone injection as part of their procedure at Melbourne Radiology Clinic

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What is cortisone?

Cortisone is the name used to describe a group of drugs commonly known as corticosteroids. The types of cortisone used at Melbourne Radiology Clinic include Celestone (Betamethasone), Kenacort (Triamcinolone) and Depot-Medrol (Methylprednisolone). Cortisone is used to treat pain in various parts of the body where inflammation is felt to be the cause of this pain. The reason why cortisone is effective in treating such pain is because it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Cortisone is NOT an illegal steroid medication, such as those steroids used by some disqualified body builders and athletes.

Why inject cortisone?

In regard to musculoskeletal problems, cortisone injections are performed in order to reduce or even eliminate pain associated with a variety of disorders, such as:

How is cortisone administered?

In cases where a cyst, ganglion, bursa or joint is distended with fluid, the cortisone will be injected after an attempt to aspirate (remove) the fluid in order to improve comfort.

Benefits, Risks, Complications and Side-Effects of Cortisone

As for all medical procedures, there are risk associated with the administration of any medication, including cortisone. The chances of cortisone providing you with the benefit of pain relief in most patients outweighs the risk of experiencing a side effect(s) (discussed below). The decision to inject cortisone is not taken lightly and is carefully made by your referring doctor and based on your signs, symptoms and past medical history, as well as the suspected diagnosis. Frequently, a trial injection is made where the diagnosis is not clear, however the body region that is to be injected is suspected of causing your pain.

The side effects and risks of a cortisone injection include:

Remember that the side effects of cortisone that are commonly reported in the media, such as osteoporosis, weight gain, acne and diabetes only occur when taking cortisone tablets for at least several weeks. These side effects do not occur with the careful use of cortisone injections.

Are there any alternatives to a cortisone injection?

Of course there are. Since a cortisone injection is used for treating pain, it is an optional procedure. Other options should be discussed with you referring doctor and may include anti-inflammatory medications, exercise, physiotherapy and surgery to name a few. The role of our radiologist is to perform the procedure requested by your referring doctor and therefore ensure that the cortisone is injected safely and into the correct location.

How many cortisone injections are permitted?

There is no scientifically proven limit for cortisone injections, however as a general rule, three injections into the same body part are permitted over a twelve month period. Injections more frequent than this are felt to place the injected tissue at risk of softening/weakening, which may be an issue in a joint for example, as this may accelerate arthritis. Also, if you have failed to respond to a series of three injections, then it is probably time your condition was reassessed to find out if the diagnosis correct. Has your condition worsened and are other forms of treatment, such as surgery, more appropriate?

If you do require more than three injections in a year, then the risk of the injection must be carefully balanced against the benefits of pain relief. Your referring doctor or the doctor at Melbourne Radiology Clinic will be happy to discuss your condition and address any concerns that you may have.

For more information contact Melbourne Radiology Clinic on (03) 9667 1667.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 March 2016 14:02 )