Breaking the Pain Cycle

Cortisone injections are not for every body but they are useful for patients whose pain doesn’t respond to other therapies. Before we recommend cortisone injections, we may apply other conservative treatments such as physical therapy, NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications), ice packs, heat, electrical stimulation and support garments, acupuncture, traction, biofeedback, manipulation (chiropractic), or strengthening exercises— all procedures, techniques and modalities that have been shown to alleviate some cases of back pain.

cortisone shots for back or neck painIf there is no improvement after six weeks, and if the patient is becoming discouraged, we may consider cortisone injections.

One concern about back and neck injuries is that they can inhibit some patients from engaging in physical activities that might be beneficial or even essential for rehabilitation.

While it’s important to rest an injured muscle or joint, prolonged inactivity increases the chances of re-injury. In addition, muscles that are not conditioned can become irritated. and the resulting discomfort may disrupt sleep and provoke spasm, fatigue and pain. For these reasons, patients with spinal injuries sometimes become frustrated and discouraged.

For our patients who exhibit a particular pattern of pain, cortisone injections are an option. These injections are used to treat inflamed joints, tendons or bursae. In the case of spinal injuries, cortisone may be injected into a facet joint, or directly into the spinal canal where the steroid’s anti-inflammatory effect may relieve pressure on nerves and nerve roots. Complications are rare. The injection is virtually painless and takes effect fairly quickly.

Cortisone Injections for Certain Cases

While cortisone injections are widely used, and considered safe and effective in the vast majority of cases, there are patients for whom cortisone injections are contraindicated. In patients with diabetes, cortisone may raise blood glucose levels. Because cortisone mimics the body’s immune hormones, it can interfere with the body’s own ability to fight infection, or it may mask an infection by suppressing signs and symptoms of inflammation. Cortisone injections are not advised for some patients with bleeding disorders.

Corticosteroids replicate the action of our natural immune system, and they are powerful tools. However, as with any super-effective modality, they must be applied judiciously and in the right context.

If pain becomes an impediment to a healthy lifestyle or if you’ve tried conservative therapies and haven’t found relief, discuss your options with a member of our clinical staff. Ask them if Cortisone injections might be a viable option for your particular situation.