Pain Myth #3: A Cortisone Shot Is the Answer To Your Problem

I’m sure either you or someone you know has gone to a doctor before and been told a cortisone injection will fix their problem.

Unfortunately, that’s just not true.  While it may help ease some of the pain, IT WON’T FIX YOUR PROBLEM.

Just getting rid of someone’s pain doesn’t mean that the problem is fixed.  This is why many times someone will feel better for a couple weeks/months after some type of symptomatic treatment and then the pain comes back “out of the blue.”  This happens because the true cause of the problem wasn’t addressed.

Over the years, doctors have been injecting cortisone into just about anything because it’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties were thought to be beneficial to getting rid of pain and healing the inflamed tissues.

More & more research, however, has shown that cortisone injections actually interfere with the body’s natural healing response.  Cortisone’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce swelling, but by doing so it also inhibits the body’s natural healing process.  This results in the abnormal/injured tissues (i.e. tendons, ligaments, etc) staying in an unhealthy state for a longer period of time and being prone to further injury.

Regrettably, most physicians don’t fully explain the effectiveness, appropriate usage, and potential downside of cortisone shots to their patients.  And if they did, more and more people would likely say no.

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When you go to a physician for complaints of pain, most of them can offer you 1 of 3 things for pain "relief" - medications, injections, or surgery.  The good physicians will understand the limitations and appropriateness of these options and use them only when necessary and refer you to someone else if they can't help you.

Unfortunately, there are some physicians who feel like they have to do something with the patient in front of them and many times they'll offer a cortisone injection.  And many times, the patient will agree to it because they feel like they should do something too...and what's lazier easier than getting a shot and going on your way.

To summarize, while cortisone can potentially help ease some pain, it does nothing to repair the injury, fix the root cause of the problem, or prevent the problem from happening again.

 

Overall, I think cortisone injections are overused and not as effective as promised.  However, I do believe that there is a time and a place when they can be used.  If someone is looking for a potential quick & temporary relief of their pain to help them do something in the near future (i.e. dance at their son's wedding, go on vacation, etc.), then an injection could be a good choice.

In the other cases - which is the vast majority of them - I (and fortunately more and more doctors) feel that a cortisone shot is not worth the risk and, nowadays, the cost as health insurance coverage gets less and less.

The best course of action to take is to speak with a medical professional who can give you the time to fully discuss your issue(s) & personal goals and be able to provide you with the necessary treatment and education to eliminate your pain and address the underlying cause(s) of the problem.

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Read Pain Myth #1: "Rest Will Fix Your Problem"
Read Pain Myth #2: "Just Stretch It"
Read Pain Myth #4: "It's Because of Your Age"
Read Pain Myth #5: "You Need To Get an MRI"