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Corticosteroid injections deliver powerful medications directly to irritated tissues to help relieve pain and inflammation. What sets corticosteroid injections apart from other targeted interventions is that they contain steroids.

Steroids are a type of hormone that reduces inflammation and immune function. Your body makes these hormones naturally, including cortisol. The synthetic version of cortisol is cortisone, which is the primary component of a corticosteroid injection.

Thomas Calton, MD, uses corticosteroid injections to relieve pain and inflammation in a wide range of conditions at Elevate Surgical in Ogden, Utah. While corticosteroids are generally safe, they can come with some complications if misused.

In this blog, Dr. Calton explains what you can expect when getting an injection as well as some considerations you should keep in mind.

What to expect during your corticosteroid injection

Dr. Calton can administer your injection during an office visit. Sometimes, Dr. Calton uses a mixture of cortisone and a local anesthetic to provide immediate and longer-lasting pain relief.

Procedures typically include the following:

  • Cleaning the injection site with alcohol
  • Applying a topical anesthetic to numb the area
  • Draining excess fluid from the treatment site, if needed
  • Injecting the medication
  • Covering the injection site with a bandage

After your injection, you can go home immediately. However, you should protect the injection site for a day or two. For example, you should avoid lifting heavy items if you receive treatment in your shoulder. You should also avoid bathtubs, whirlpools, and hot tubs for 48 hours.

It’s common to have a temporary pain flare-up within the first two days of an injection, but it should start to ease as inflammation decreases in the area. If the injection works, the results could last for several months.

More isn’t necessarily better

The greatest risk with corticosteroid injections comes with frequency of use. Simply put, receiving too much of this medication in a single area can actually damage tissue in the treatment site, including cartilage, tendons, and fatty tissue. The result? An already painful condition can worsen because of further tissue degeneration.

To keep your treatments safe, Dr. Calton limits the number of corticosteroid injections you can receive in one site, often no more than three in a single year. And, in many cases, corticosteroid injections aren’t recommended as the first line of defense in young people who still have growing joints.

Corticosteroid injections can also temporarily affect blood sugar. If you have diabetes, it’s crucial to closely monitor your glucose levels so you can adjust your insulin as needed. Ignoring high blood sugar can increase your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and vision, kidney, and nerve conditions.

In expert hands, corticosteroid injections offer safe and effective solutions for many inflammatory diseases, but they’re not right for everyone. Dr. Calton can provide personalized insights about the best treatment option for you based on your condition, desired goals, and overall health.

Is persistent pain slowing you down? Dr. Calton can help you get relief. To learn more, call (801) 758-0206 or book an appointment online with Elevate Surgical today.

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