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What are Cortisone Injections?

Cortisone injections (also known as corticosteroid injections) are an orthopedic treatment used to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation in damaged musculoskeletal tissues.

3D rendering of the knee with a syringe next to it filled with corticosteroids

Key statistics about Cortisone Injections

  • Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common cause of chronic physical pain and disability[1]
  • In the United States, 8% of all outpatient visits are to address musculoskeletal tissue problems[2]
  • Almost 67% of family physicians use cortisone injections as part of treatment plan for musculoskeletal conditions[2]

Expert Insights

Stem Cells, Steroids, Gel Shots, and PRP Therapy - Bradford S. Waddell, MD

What is Cortisone?

Cortisone is a type of corticosteroid, which is designed to mimic the hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisone is a strong anti-inflammatory steroid that reduces swelling and relieves pain in damaged tissue.

Why are Cortisone Injections performed?

Typically, cortisone injections are used to address inflammation and pain from conditions such as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Inflammatory autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis
  • Back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Who needs Cortisone Injections?

Ideal candidates for cortisone injections suffer from chronic pain and inflammation due to orthopedic injuries or conditions that have not responded to nonsurgical treatment such as physical therapy and medication. Additionally, some patients seeking relief from these conditions may not be suitable candidates for surgical treatment.

Cortisone injections will not heal the underlying condition causing pain and inflammation, but the treatment can offer temporary symptom-relief.

How are Cortisone Injections performed?

The cortisone will be injected directly into the affected area. Some cortisone injections contain local anesthetic to help alleviate pain immediately.

What are the risks of Cortisone Injections?

Risks associated with cortisone injections may include:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Temporary swelling
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage
  • Tissue damage

How long does it take to recover from Cortisone Injections?

  • 24-48 hours after the procedure
    Cortisone injections are an outpatient procedure and patients will return home shortly after the injections. Pain and swelling at the injection site may occur, but should subside within 48 hours. Activity should be limited and the injection site should be iced regularly
  • 1 week after the procedure
    Most patients typically experience relief in symptoms, which lasts from a few weeks to a few months.
  • 3 months after the procedure
    Some patients with chronic conditions may require additional cortisone injections, which must be provided at least 3 months apart.

What are the results of Cortisone Injections?

Cortisone injections are a safe and effective non-surgical treatment option to manage pain and inflammation. Cortisone injections are a simple, minimally-invasive procedure with very few complications and may protect tissue from the damage of chronic inflammation.

Middleton, K.K., Barro, V., Muller, B., Terada, S., & Fu, F.H. (2012). Evaluation of the Effects of Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy Involved in the Healing of Sports-Related Soft Tissue Injuries. The Iowa Orthopaedic Journal, 32, 150-163. From
Foster, Z.J., Voss, T.T., Hatch, J.H., & Frimodig, A. (2015). Corticosteroid Injections for Common Musculoskeletal Condition. American Family Physician, 92(8), 694-699. From
Last edited on February 13th, 2024 5:18 pm