How Long Does Cortisone Shot Last?

patient asking doctor how long does cortisone shot last

Cortisone shots are injections containing corticosteroids, a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. These shots are commonly used to treat a range of medical conditions, including joint pain, arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis. 

Corticosteroid medication can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation and swelling in the affected area. 

But how long does a cortisone shot last? What are the potential downsides?

Let’s take a closer look at this topic and learn more about this medical innovation.

How Does Cortisone Work?

Corticosteroid hormone is an artificial steroid that the body produces when stressed and pained. Before injecting the medication, your doctor will use x-rays or ultrasounds to help the shot get the correct angle.

Cortisone shots work by reducing the inflammation that causes pain. When an injury to the joints is chronic or has been occurring for long periods, the human body does not produce sufficient steroid hormones to help reduce the pain. 

Taking corticosterone injections into the thigh joint can also reduce pain and improve mobility. Cortisone shots may be given as a pain reliever for knee pain, neck pain, and hip pain. 

How Often Can You Get Cortisone Shots?

patient asking doctor how long does cortisone shot last

The frequency of cortisone injections will depend on the individual’s health condition and the severity of their symptoms. Generally, doctors recommend limiting cortisone shots to no more than three or four per year. 

Doctors will also typically limit the dosage of the medication in each injection to reduce the risk of side effects and long-term complications.

[Related: When To Get Neck Injections for Pain (And How to Prepare)]

How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Stay In Your System?

Typically, the effects of a cortisone shot can last for six weeks to six months. The length of period that a cortisone shot stays in the system can vary depending on the individual’s metabolism and the location of the injected area. 

In some cases, the effects of the steroid injections may wear off more quickly, particularly if the injection was given in a joint that is subject to a lot of movement and degenerative changes like osteoarthritis. 

While the effects of cortisone injections can provide significant relief from pain and inflammation, it is important to remember that the shot is not a cure for the underlying condition. It is advisable to work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the underlying condition and provides long-term relief.

Combining cortisone therapy with exercises recommended by your doctor can help alleviate pain better. Also, lifestyle factors like weight reduction, muscle strengthening, and wearing appropriate shoes might be helpful. Make sure to follow your physician’s recommendations to improve your overall health.

What Is the Downside to a Cortisone Injection?

While cortisone reduces inflammation and provides significant pain relief, they do come with some potential downsides. 

One of the most significant downsides is that repeated cortisone shots can weaken tendons and cartilage if used excessively or improperly. This can increase the risk of injury and further damage to the affected area.

Other potential downsides of cortisone shots include:

  • Pain and discomfort at the injection site
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Changes in skin color and texture
  • Elevated blood sugar levels in people with diabetes
  • Increase in blood pressure

These side effects are relatively rare, and your doctor will do a full physical and medical analysis to ensure that your cortisone injections are administered safely.

What Happens if a Cortisone Shot Doesn’t Work?

If a cortisone shot does not provide the desired relief, several other treatment options may be considered. These may include the following:

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen the affected area and improve mobility, which can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs are medications that can help reduce pain and inflammation. They are available over the counter and by prescription.
  • Hyaluronic acid injections: Hyaluronic acid injections are a type of injection that can help improve the viscosity of the joint fluid, which can reduce pain and improve mobility.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to address the underlying condition and provide long-term relief.

How Many Cortisone Shots Can You Have?

In general, the amount of cortisone injections a person can receive is limited by the risk of side effects and tissue damage. It also depends on several factors, including the specific condition being treated, the location of the injection, and the individual’s response to the treatment.

For most conditions, such as bursitis, tendinitis, or joint inflammation, a maximum of three to four injections per year is recommended. Repeated injections in the same area can lead to weakened or damaged tissues, increased risk of infection, and other potential complications.

However, in some cases, such as severe joint pain or inflammation, your healthcare provider will recommend more frequent injections. It is important to discuss your situation with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate treatment plan and understand the potential risks and benefits of cortisone injections.

What To Do After a Cortisone Shot (Post-procedure Guide)

After receiving a cortisone shot, it is important to take certain steps to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Here are some post-procedure tips:

  • Rest and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Apply ice to the injection site.
  • Take pain relievers as directed.
  • Monitor for side effects like fever, chills, or any signs of infection.
  • Follow up with your healthcare provider.

Ready to Get Your Cortisone Shot?

healthy old woman

A cortisone injection can provide immediate pain relief for various medical conditions. If you have been dealing with neck pain, arthritis pain, and other chronic pain, VISP doctors can help treat inflammation and provide the right pain relief. We provide other medical services to bring you back to normal and pain-free life!

Contact us today for more information about our services.

Author Profile

Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott was formed in 2010 by a group of subspecialty radiologists that perform numerous minimally-invasive, low-risk procedures using the tools of our trade for guidance—x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI. The team’s goal is to educate patients and medical communities, while also providing safe and compassionate health care, with rapid recovery times and low risk of complications.