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Cortisone, also known as corticosteroid, is a synthetic version of the body's hormone, cortisol. When cortisone is administered in the form of an injection, it is very effective at treating a variety of diseases. Although cortisone shots can be very powerful, they do come with some immediate and long-term side effects.


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Cortisone shots are beneficial for a variety of conditions. They are often administered to those suffering from chronic pain associated with nerve damage in the body's joints. Pain tends to occur most around the knees, elbows, shoulders and the back. Cortisone shots are also powerful in treating chronic inflammatory diseases such as eczema, arthritis and asthma.

Immediate Side Effects

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Side effects from cortisone injections are generally immediate with intense pain at the site of injection. This discomfort can last for several hours following the shot and can also include joint stiffness. Ice can help relieve any pain as well as reduce any swelling. Depending on where you receive your shot, limit using that part of your body by avoiding heavy lifting and taking it easy.

Long-Term Side Effects

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Cortisone shots can also come with some long-term side effects. Loss of bone density, weakened muscles, thinning of the skin, nerve damage and joint infections are among the most common potential reactions that can occur with frequent shots. Because of this, injections are typically limited to no more than four times per year.


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Cortisone shots are a very efficient way to reduce inflammation both locally and throughout the body. Depending on the purpose of treatment, for most, relief can be felt within 48 hours of receiving a cortisone shot. For some, it can take several days before any change is felt. Although this type of treatment is known to be very successful, there is no guarantee that nerve pain will be completely eliminated. If it is successful, the benefits can be felt for up to six months.


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Monitor the injection site for the first 24 hours after receiving a cortisone shot, as infection is possible. Signs of an infection include fever as well as liquid draining from the injection site. Often, the liquid will have an odor. Be sure to report any adverse or abnormal reactions to your doctor right away.