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How Cortisone Helps with Joints

An injury to the knee, shoulder, or other joint during a sports accident can cause ongoing joint pain. In many cases, your body just needs a break from the inflammation inside the joint to have a chance to heal.

Orthopedic surgeons, San Francisco-based Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht and Dr. Ephraim Dickinson at The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine (IASM) in San Francisco, California, can evaluate your joint injury and provide a range of sports medicine protocols, including corticosteroid injections for joint disorders.

Cortisone injections for joint disorders

Cortisone shots, also known as corticosteroids, are injections of the steroid cortisone delivered directly into the interior of the joint capsule. Cortisone is a synthetic version of cortisol, a naturally occurring hormone that decreases inflammation in your body. It’s often mixed with a mild anesthetic for immediate pain relief.

When we inject cortisone directly into your inflamed joint, the corticosteroid goes to work, reducing inflammation, swelling, and pain. We typically apply these shots when there’s been an injury to a joint from impact, hyper-extension, over-rotation, or overuse, resulting in joint disorders such as:

For example, imagine you were out on the slopes, and ended up wrenching your knee when your ski caught on something. Now your knee hurts almost all the time, and you can even see swelling around the joint. You can see a ski doctor in San Francisco for an evaluation and possible cortisone injection if that treatment is likely to help you heal. 

Why a San Francisco Orthopedic Surgeon uses corticosteroids sparingly

Corticosteroids are one of the first lines of defense against inflammation and pain in a joint, but they’re not a long-term solution for a serious injury. We discuss the risks of repeated cortisone shots with you, so that you understand when and how they can be used effectively and safely. 

The risks associated with using corticosteroids repeatedly or over a long period of time, especially in deep joint injections, include unexpected increases of inflammation and pain in the joint. You might also experience spikes in your blood sugar (make sure to tell us if you’re diabetic). Finally, repeated steroid use can cause damage to your tendons, nerves, and cartilage. 

These risks shouldn’t automatically keep you from pursuing cortisone as a treatment option for joint disorders. Just be aware that these risks are why we limit the number of cortisone shots you can receive in a year. 

We can combine cortisone treatment with supplemental forms of therapy, such as platelet-rich plasma injections, or PRP. To create PRP, we extract a sample of your blood, centrifuge it to isolate powerful platelets, and inject the resulting platelet-plasma solution into the affected joint. 

This supercharged plasma attracts growth factors to the area, and promotes healing. PRP can also provide ongoing pain relief for long stretches of time, making it a perfect stand-alone treatment or a therapy that can be used in conjunction with corticosteroids.

Are you ready to consult with a San Francisco sports medicine doctor?

To get your knee evaluated by a sports medicine doctor in San Francisco, and to learn more about injectable cortisone for pain, get in touch with IASM. Call us at 415-233-7996, or book a consultation online

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