Understanding Cortisone and Steroid Injections: Benefits, Risks, and How They Work

What is Cortisone Injection:

Cortisone injections, also known as corticosteroid shots, cortisone shot, Hydrocortisone, Glucocorticoids, or steroid injections, are a widely utilised medical treatment designed to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and enhance mobility across various conditions. Understanding the procedure’s mechanism, potential advantages, and associated risks is crucial whether you are contemplating or have already scheduled a cortisone shot. This guide aims to equip you with comprehensive insights, enabling informed decisions about pursuing cortisone shots as a treatment option.

How Cortisone Injections Work:

Cortisone, a synthetic derivative of corticosteroid hormones like Hydrocortisone, is meticulously produced to mimic the anti-inflammatory effects of hormones naturally secreted by the body’s adrenal glands. When injected into a specific area of inflammation, cortisone works by reducing the production of inflammatory substances, such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. This leads to a decrease in inflammation in the local area, which can consequently alleviate pain and improve function in the affected area.

Conditions Treated with Cortisone Injections:

Cortisone injections can provide significant relief for a variety of conditions, offering a new lease on life for those suffering from:

Arthritis: These injections are particularly effective in reducing inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other forms of arthritis, making daily activities more manageable.

Tendonitis, Tendinopathy, and Bursitis: By directly targeting inflammation in tendons and bursae, cortisone shots can alleviate pain and promote healing, allowing for a quicker return to normal activities.

Hydrodistension for Frozen Shoulder: For individuals with frozen shoulder, cortisone mixed with a saline solution can improve shoulder joint capsule flexibility, addressing the pain and stiffness characteristic of adhesive capsulitis.

Benefits of Cortisone Injections:

The benefits of cortisone shots, including those known as glucocorticoid injections, are manifold. Let’s discuss some of these advantages:

Pain Relief: Cortisone shots can substantially relieve pain and discomfort, enabling patients to reclaim mobility and partake in previously challenging activities.

Inflammation Reduction: Targeting and mitigating inflammation directly at its source, cortisone injections facilitate improved joint functionality and diminish stiffness.

Minimally Invasive Treatment: Cortisone shots present a less invasive alternative to surgical interventions, appealing to patients seeking or requiring non-surgical options.

Localised Therapy: Delivering medication directly to the site of distress, steroid injections ensure focused treatment, sparing the rest of the body from unnecessary exposure to medication.

Risks and Potential Side Effects of Cortisone Injection:

Despite the substantial benefits, it’s imperative to recognise the potential risks and side effects associated with cortisone shots or intra-articular injections, which may encompass:

Temporary Pain Flare-Up: A cortisone flare, or a transient exacerbation of pain following the injection, is a possibility some individuals might face before noticing an improvement.

Tissue and Joint Damage: There’s a caveat with repeated steroid injections in the same area, which could weaken tendons and ligaments, thus heightening the risk of injuries.

Infection and Bleeding Risks: While infrequent, there’s a small risk of infection and bleeding at the site of the corticosteroid shot.

Blood Sugar Levels: Those with diabetes or pre-diabetes should be aware that cortisone injections can lead to a temporary spike in blood sugar levels.


In summation, cortisone shots, including hydrocortisone or glucocorticoid injections, offer significant relief for individuals grappling with various inflammatory ailments. By assimilating knowledge of their functioning, the benefits they can usher, and the risks involved, you are better positioned to make well-informed decisions regarding this treatment modality.

Hopefully this blog has helped you to decide whether you will benefit from cortisone injection or not. If you are in doubt and want our opinion, please do not hesitate to book a complimentary telephone call with JOINTINJECTIONCLINIC.

Book a complimentary telephonic call ring us on 01322 842 402