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Corticosteroids injections - yay or nay

What are corticosteroids?

Corticosteroids are a class of drug which can be used to treat inflammation.

Corticosteroid medications mimic the effects of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol helps to decrease inflammation, and to reduce immune system activity. Corticosteroids have therefore got the potential to improve associated pain, discomfort, and immobility.

Cortisol is naturally released by the adrenal glands (located on top of the kidneys) and is involved in your fight or flight response. It helps the body respond to stress, for

example, when there is an injury, or an illness. While it plays an important biological role, long term levels of elevation can be harmful to your health.

They can be applied in different ways, such as with topical creams, tablets, inhalers, and injections. This blog will focus on Cortisone injections.

What’s the purpose of cortisone injections?

Corticosteroid injections reduce inflammation with the intention to provide fast relief for painful joints, muscles, tendons, and bursa.

For some people, there will be long lasting effects (several weeks or months), but for others, they may be little relief, or even no relief at all. It is impossible to predict what the exact outcome w

ill be for each person before treatment, with individuals potentially responding differently to cortisone injections depending on the location, degree of inflammation and number of injections at that site, to name a few variables. When corticosteroid injections are successful, the chain of events can be very beneficial for someone with chronic pain. However, rather than curing the problem, for the majority it provides the opportunity to rehab the area, so that it is more resilient and less likely to return to state of chronic inflammation.

In short: Improved function leads to decreased pain, which in turn makes it easier to move and allows the person to start getting back into exercise. The exercise will help to strengthen and support the area, which can prevent from reaggravation or further injuries.


  • Decrease inflammation

  • Reduced pain

  • Reduced swelling

  • Improved function

  • Increased mobility of the affected area

What are corticosteroid injections effective for? Steroid injections can be used for joint wear and tear (osteoarthritis), inflammation of tendons,

muscle, fascia, bursae or joints (tendonitis, fasciitis, bursitis and gout). It may also be used for immune-related diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and allergies.


Although steroid injections often effectively relieve the pain associated with musculoskeletal conditions, there are a number of risks involved. Please note, the risks and results can vary between individuals, but may include;

  • Temporary face flushing

  • Bruising around the injection site

  • Thin, pale skin around the injection site

  • Pain around the injection site, often called a cortisone flare. It may last for a couple of days

  • High blood sugar (if you have diabetes)

  • An infection

  • Tendon weakening or rupture

  • Cartilage damage

  • Death of nearby bone (osteonecrosis)

  • Thinning of nearby bone (osteoporosis)

  • Nerve damage

If you are concerned, or experiencing any adverse symptoms following an injection, consult your doctor.

Where do I go to have a cortisone injection? Radiologists, orthopaedic specialists, and specially trained GP’s or doctors can deliver cortisone injections.

The professional performing the injection will most likely be determined by the reason why you are receiving it.

When would I have a corticosteroid injection?

Generally, conservative management is exhausted before referring for a cortisone injection.

This can include treatment such as manual therapy with your osteopath or remedial massage therapist, changes to workplace ergonomics, use of self-management strategies such as ice, anti-inflammatory tablets to decrease inflammation, and use of self-management strategies such as exercises, to strengthen the area and improve resilience.

We also take other factors, such as the total amount of time the pain has been present and whether you have previously had cortisone injections at that site, into consideration when deciding whether a referral is the best option for you.


Retrain Health is based in the Northern Rivers, NSW. From our Byron Bay and Ballina clinics, our team provides a range of quality healthcare services and products.

Retrain Health offers osteopathy, remedial massage, strength and conditioning, and PT sessions, with qualified practitioners.

If you are interested in finding out more information or would like to book an appointment, please contact the clinic by phone (02) 6680 7447, send us an email or click here to book an appointment online.

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