Has your doctor recommended a cortisone injection to help relieve your shoulder pain?
Are you wondering why you would get a cortisone injection and what they do?
Then let’s start there! Your doctor may recommend that you have a cortisone injection if you have a painful muscle or joint that is inflamed. The cortisone is injected directly into the muscle or joint and decreases the inflammation. You see, cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory. By decreasing the inflammation, the pressure in the muscle or joint will also be decreased. Once the pressure is decreased you will feel a decrease in the pain.
Decreased inflammation = decreased pressure + time = decreased pain
Do cortisone injections really work?
While the theory for cortisone injections is sound the research tells another story. A recent study concluded that “corticosteroid injections provide – at best – minimal transient pain relief in a small number of patients with rotator cuff tendinosis and cannot modify the natural course of the disease”. Which means that the cortisone injection may help decrease pain in the short term but will not provide the long term benefits needed to heal a rotator cuff issue.
A different study from the Annals of Internal Medicine compared 3 steroid injections with Physical Therapy treatment. This study found that both groups reported a 50% improvement in pain and disability after one year. However, the steroid injection group had more return visits to their primary care doctor and a higher request for additional steroid injections. Basically, Physical Therapy was able to provide the same benefits while decreasing the number of doctor visits after treatment and decreasing the need for drugs.
Are there any side effects from a cortisone injection?
YES! It has long been known that steroid injections lead to degeneration of the soft tissues of the area it is injected into, potentially leading to tendon tears in the future. That cortisone injection you get today to deal with a rotator cuff tear leads to a weakening of the rotator cuff muscles which increases the risk of further tears in the future.
AND, the medical community is starting to question if cortisone injections into joints actually leads to an increased risk of arthritis. A recent report in Radiology observed patients who had previously received steroid injections and found that some of the patients exhibited further joint damage on medical imaging tests. This study is concerning to those who have been told they need to have an injection to decrease pain from arthritis.
PLUS, there are other potential side effects from a cortisone injection including muscle weakness, slow wound healing, and high blood pressure. Just to name a few! The cortisone is injected locally but travels throughout your body and can cause problems to other systems.
Would you prefer a completely natural way to treat your shoulder pain?
Physical therapy offers a more holistic approach to treating your shoulder pain. It is true that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Our treatment model is entirely based around addressing the root cause of your pain instead of just providing temporary relief. This allows us to be non-invasive, movement-based, and entirely customized to YOU.
If you have been told that you need a cortisone injection to deal with your shoulder pain we would like you to get informed about other options. We offer a completely natural route to get your shoulder moving again. Want to find out how? Then schedule a FREE 20 minute Discovery Visit to talk with one of our specialists now.