Cortisone is the steroid hormone released under the stressful situations, to soothe and manage the inflammation of the body. Synthetic cortisone injections have the same mechanism of action and are used to relieve the pain, caused by the swelling of the nerve roots, tendons, joints or muscles.
These injections are used to ease the pain in the back. There are three types of cortisone injections, used for different purposes: nerve root block, facet joint and epidural steroid injections.
Nerve root block injections are given into the area around the spinal nerve roots. They are usually given to patients suffering from the lower back problems.
Facet joint injections are given into a facet joint at the back of vertebral bones and are usually recommended for neck pain.
Epidural steroid injections are the most used injections for the back pain. These injections are given into the epidural space (area around the dura membranes, which covers the spine and nerve roots). Nerves for the shoulder and arms also travel through the epidural space, so when these nerves get swollen, patients suffer from the upper back, shoulder and also neck pain. Therefore, epidural steroid injections might be also used to treat these conditions as well.
Procedure for the epidural steroid injections requires the X-ray. Doctor will use the X rays to guide the needle through the patients’ back. First, doctor will cleanse the patient’s back and anesthetize it. Anesthetics will numb the area of the back and patient won’t feel anything happening there. When the area becomes numb, doctor will inject the needle with some dye to properly locate the epidural space and then inject the cortisone dose. Usually, patients will stay at the doctors’ watch for some 20 minutes, to make sure there are no problems because of the injection. Some patients may feel as if the pain got worse, but this is just the transitory effect. In other cases, patients complained about the tenderness at the injection spot.
Cortisone injections are not suitable for several groups of people, including: pregnant women and people with heart problems, systemic infections or blood related problems. Also, there is a problem with allergic reactions to cortisone and these patients mustn’t use injections.
There are several different issues with cortisone injections for people that can use them. First of all, there is no guarantee that it will work for you. Some people react to these injections very well, other experience no effect.
The effect is temporary and these injections don’t cure the condition, but ease the pain. Plus, the effect exists because synthetic cortisone destroys the swollen tissue, which means that it damages your body in order to get the job done.
Long term usage of cortisone injections can cause weight gain, hypertension, and decrease of bone density.