What is a cortisone injection?
A cortisone injection is a treatment for a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions. Cortisone is a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids have potent anti-inflammatory effects. They can also help regulate your immune system’s activity. There are a wide variety of corticosteroids available as injections. Cortisone injection is often a generic term for injection of any of these corticosteroids. The goal of a corticosteroid injection is to reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation can help relieve pain.
A corticosteroid injection is only one method of treatment. You should discuss different treatments with your doctor or healthcare provider to best understand which option is right for you.
Types of cortisone injections
The types of corticosteroid injections include:
- Local injections, which reduce inflammation in a limited or small area of your body. Examples of local injections include intra-articular (joint) injections and epidural (spinal) injections.
- Systemic injections, which reduce inflammation in your entire body or system or to help regulate your immune system’s activity. Systemic injections help treat allergic reactions or diseases that affect more than one area, such as rheumatoid arthritis, breathing problems, collagen diseases, and cancer.
Other procedures that may be performed
Doctors can use corticosteroid injections by themselves to treat certain diseases, disorders or conditions. However, they often recommend one or more additional treatment procedures. These will vary depending on the specific disease, disorder or condition. Talk with your healthcare provider about all of your treatment options.
Why is a cortisone injection used?
Your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection to treat a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions. These include:
- Adrenal insufficiency or decreased functioning of your adrenal gland
- Allergic reactions
- Collagen and autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus
- Joint problems, such as arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis
- Respiratory problems, such as acute asthma attacks
- Skin conditions, such as keloids and psoriasis
- Soft tissue conditions, such as fasciitis and ganglion cysts
- Spine conditions, such as spinal stenosis or herniated disks
How is a cortisone injection given?
Corticosteroid injections can be given in a variety of ways. These include:
- Epidural injections, in which your doctor injects a corticosteroid near your spinal canal to reduce inflammation in spine. Reducing inflammation can provide pain relief from spinal conditions, such as spinal stenosis, herniated disks, and injuries to your spinal nerves. This is a form of local injection. Your doctor will most likely combine a corticosteroid with a local anesthetic for epidural injections.
- Intra-articular injections, in which your doctor injects a corticosteroid directly into your joint. This is also a form of local injection. Most of these injections take place in your doctor’s office or an outpatient setting. In cases involving joints that are difficult to access, such as the hip, your injection may take place in a hospital setting using imaging technology to guide the process. Your doctor may combine a corticosteroid with a local anesthetic for intra-articular injections.
- Intralesional injections, which go directly into a skin lesion, such as acne or a keloid. A keloid is an overgrowth of collagen tissue at the site of a scar or wound. Your doctor may combine a corticosteroid with a local anesthetic for intralesional injections. Intralesional injections are a form of local injection.
- Intramuscular injections, in which your doctor injects a corticosteroid directly into a muscle. Intramuscular injections are a form of systemic injection. These injections are intended to reduce inflammation in more than one area of your body. Your doctor may combine a corticosteroid with a local anesthetic for an intramuscular injection.
- Intravenous injections, which go directly into your vein. They are a form of systemic injection. You will typically have intravenous corticosteroid injections as treatment for serious conditions in a hospital.
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.