A cortisone injection for knee pain is a relatively simple, fast, and safe way to get relief. It is a temporary fix but provides important relief from inflammation, swelling, reduced mobility, and pain caused by arthritis and injuries.
What Are Cortisone and Steroid Shots?
A cortisone shot is an injection of a steroid directly to an area of inflammation and pain. In this context, a steroid and cortisone shot is the same thing. Cortisone is a type of steroid known as a corticosteroid.
In the body, cortisone mimics the natural compound cortisol, which reduces inflammation. When injected directly into the knee joint, cortisone acts on the inflammation resulting in reduced swelling and pain relief. It also improves mobility in the joint.
Doctors use cortisone shots for back pain, joint pain, several types of arthritis, gout, tendonitis, bursitis, and some joint injuries that cause pain and swelling.
What Causes of Knee Pain Does a Steroid Shot Treat?
A cortisone shot is a simple and fast-acting pain relief treatment for several types of arthritis that affect the knee joints:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
It’s important to recognize that steroids do not slow the progression of arthritis or treat the underlying cause of pain. Instead, it provides temporary relief from pain and swelling.
Arthritis is a primary use of cortisone injections for knee pain, but your doctor might also recommend a shot to relieve pain and reduce swelling related to knee injuries like:
- Sprained or torn ligaments
- Torn meniscus
- Muscle strains
Cortisone shots provide pain relief for these injuries. They also reduce swelling and help you get more mobile, promoting the healing of the injury. Whether or not the shot is enough treatment for an injury depends on its severity.
How Long Does it Take for a Steroid Injection to Work?
Doctors generally recommend a cortisone shot for quick relief, but the effects are not immediate. Many people experience additional pain and inflammation for a day or two after receiving the injection. After that, pain should reduce, and you’ll feel the effects of the cortisone. You might need to use another type of painkiller until the steroid takes effect.
How Long Do the Effects of a Cortisone Shot Last?
A cortisone shot in the knee for arthritis and other types of pain could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. In general, the effect lasts less time for more severe cases of arthritis and longer for mild or moderate arthritis.
What to Expect When Getting a Cortisone Injection for Knee Pain
Cortisone injections are an outpatient procedure. A doctor will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area before administering the steroid shot, or they will mix it in with the steroid. They may use imaging to direct the needle to the precise location the steroid is needed. Doctors typically use such imaging with hip injections rather than knee injections.
Expect pain and swelling for a couple of days after the shot. Your doctor will direct you to use ice to relieve these temporary side effects. You may also need to rest your knee and limit movement for a few days.
Are There Any Risks of Getting a Steroid Shot for Knee Pain?
When managed by trained medical professionals, steroid shots are mostly safe. Proper management and safe use include limiting the number of injections per year. Using the shots too frequently may actually speed the rate of tissue deterioration in arthritis.
Although they are mostly safe and have been used effectively in many patients for years, cortisone shots may not be suitable for everyone. Cortisone tends to elevate blood sugar, so it may not be best for someone with diabetes.
Another concern is for anyone with compromised immunity because cortisone can weaken the immune system. Other potential, though rare, side effects include osteoporosis, high blood pressure, fluid retention, and mood changes. Your doctor or specialist can help you determine if a steroid injection is safe for you.
Is a Cortisone Shot Expensive?
Another consideration when choosing a treatment for knee pain is the expense. A cortisone injection cost typically ranges from $100 to $300, but most insurance plans should cover at least part of the cost. Medicare B, for instance, covers cortisone knee injections.
A cortisone injection can be an easy, quick, and safe solution to knee pain for many patients. A joint specialist can give you more information and help you decide if this treatment is right for you.
Reach out if you have knee pain, whether you know what the cause is or not. Request an appointment to reach the joint specialists at EmergeOrtho. Our specialists can advise you and offer effective treatments and management strategies, including cortisone injections.