A Cortisone injection is a commonly prescribed treatment for people with chronic joint pain such as neck pain, low back pain, hip pain and shoulder pain. It is also commonly prescribed for nerve pain problems such as sciatica. Simply because a treatment is commonly prescribed; however, does not mean that it is safe.
Certainly, no medical procedure is without potential side effects. Sometimes, medical drugs achieve their desired effect; however, there is always at least one undesirable co-effect for the patient to contend with. All medical drugs have side effects, many of which are extremely dangerous and can be worse than the symptom that the drug is intended to treat. Some side effects are even life threatening. Cortisone injections are no exception.
Cortisone Injections Do Not Correct The Cause Of Your Pain
The most important fact to realize regarding cortisone injections is that – regardless of the potential of severe side effects – they do not correct the cause of the pain. They do not even treat the symptom of pain at all. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory drug that treats inflammation. Inflammation is an effect of an injury; it is not a cause of your problem or pain.
Unless the underlying injury is corrected, the problem (and the pain) will not go away. A common cause of this type of inflammation is Vertebral Subluxation. Subluxation pinches nerves and damages the spinal cord and brain stem. As a result, one of the effects of Subluxation is inflammation. This pinching of the nerves and compression of the spinal cord also causes the pain and, left uncorrected, it will damage the organs of your body causing disease and early death.
If this underlying cause is not corrected, the effects will never be resolved, regardless of which drugs are used to treat the symptoms. The good news is that when Subluxation is corrected, the effects (inflammation, pain, numbness, sciatica, etc.) will go away naturally.
Hippocrates, “The Father of Medicine” said, “for the cause of illness, look to the spine.” This advice, given over two thousand years ago, applies very well today. Always look to correct the cause of your problems, rather than treating the effects.
There are times when cortisone injections are a good option. In fact, as a chiropractic physician, I have referred patients for this procedure. However, cortisone injections should be a last resort treatment after all other conservative measures have been fully utilized.
My primary concern for my patients is to ensure that their body properly heals and does so as quickly as possible. When this can be accomplished conservatively and in a non-invasive manner, then you can avoid the complications and dangerous co-effects of cortisone injections listed out below.
Facts About Treatment With Cortisone Injections
(From Jonathan Cluett, M.D. on About.com)
What is cortisone?
Cortisone is a type of steroid that is produced naturally by a gland in your body called the adrenal gland. Cortisone is released from the adrenal gland when your body is under stress. Natural cortisone is released into the blood stream and is relatively short-acting. Injectable cortisone is synthetically produced and has many different trade names (e.g. Celestone, Kenalog, etc.), but is a close derivative of your body’s own product.
The most significant differences are that synthetic cortisone is not injected into the blood stream, but into a particular area of inflammation. Also, the synthetic cortisone is designed to act more potently and for a longer period of time (days instead of minutes).
How do the cortisone injections help?
Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. Cortisone is not a pain relieving medication, it only treats the inflammation. When pain is decreased from cortisone it is because the inflammation is diminished.
Are there side effects to cortisone injections?
Yes. Probably the most common side-effect is a ‘cortisone flare,’ a condition where the injected cortisone crystallizes and can cause a brief period of pain worse than before the shot. Other side-effects of cortisone injections, although rare, can be quite serious.
The most concerning is infection, especially if the injection is given into a joint. The best prevention is careful injection technique, with sterilization of the skin using iodine and/or alcohol. Also, patients with diabetes may have a transient increase in their blood sugar which they should watch for closely.
‘Can I get a cortisone injection more than once?‘ Yes. There is no rule as to how many cortisone injections can be given. Often physicians do not want to give more than three, but there is not really a specific limit to the number of shots. However, there are some practical limitations. If a cortisone injection wears off quickly or does not help the problem, then repeating it may not be worthwhile.
Also, animal studies have shown effects of weakening of tendons and softening of cartilage with cortisone injections. Repeated cortisone injections multiply these effects and increase the risk of potential problems. This is the reason many physicians limit the number of injections they offer to a patient.
The Doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease. ~Thomas Edison
Side Effects (A to Z) of Cortisone Injections
Now, here is an expanded list of side effects from Cortisone injections. The length of this list, as well as, the comprehensive nature of potential side effects should cause you to think twice about your decision. It may seem harmless at first, but it will have damaging affects on your body that you may not realize for months or years to come.
A Acne, appetite changes or loss, abdominal pain, severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue)
B Bone fractures; back pain; black, tarry stools; blindness (sudden, when injected in the head or neck area); burning, numbness, pain, or tingling at or near place of injection
C cardiac arrest (heart attack), cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac enlargement, circulatory collapse, congestive heart failure, clumsiness, changes in mood; changes in menstrual periods; changes in body fat; chest pain; convulsions; confusion
D Decreased or blurred vision; depression; diarrhea; difficulty sleeping; darkening or lightening of skin color; dizziness or light headedness
E easy bruising or bleeding; excitement
F facial flushing;fainting; fever; fast or irregular heartbeat; frequent urination; false sense of well-being; flushing of face or cheeks; feeling of whirling motion
G gas; general body discomfort
H hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there); headache; hiccups
I indigestion; increased thirst; increased joint pain (after injection into a joint); increased pressure in the eye; increased sweating; irregular heartbeat
J joint pain
L light headedness
M mental depression; mistaken feelings of self-importance or being mistreated; mood swings (sudden and wide); muscle pain, weakness, or wasting
N nervousness; nausea; nosebleeds (after injection into the nose)
P pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site; personality changes; prolonged sore throat, cold, or fever; psychotic behaviors; puffing of the face
R reappearance of disease symptoms; redness, swelling, or other sign of allergy or infection at place of injection; restlessness; respiratory tract infection
S seizures; sensation of spinning; shortness of breath; sleeplessness; skin rash or hives; stomach bloating; stomach pain; severe nausea or vomiting; swelling of feet or legs; sudden severe dizziness or headache; symptoms of infection (eg, fever, chills, sore throat)
T thin, fragile skin; tendon or bone pain; tremor
U unexplained headaches (frequent of continuing); unusual tiredness or weakness; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual weight gain; upset stomach; unusual skin sensation
V vomiting, vision changes or other eye problems; vomiting that looks like coffee grounds
W weakness; weight loss (rapid)
If you are in pain, I encourage you to seek the CAUSE and correct the CAUSE. This will save you from these dangerous side effects of cortisone injections and allow your body to heal as it is designed to do. Achieving wellness is not about quick fixes, it is about honoring the innate healing power within you.