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

doctor discussing what to do after a cortisone shot to a patient

In our previous articles, we have guided you about the things that you should expect before and during cortisone injection procedures. This medication provides instant pain relief for health conditions related to inflammation and joint pain. 

However, a lot of people don’t have solid information about how to care for their bodies right after getting a steroid shot. 

Here’s a post-procedure guide to help you learn what to do after a cortisone shot. 

What Happens During a Cortisone Shot Procedure?

Once in the doctor’s office, your physician will usually ask about any major complaints that have brought you in, including medical conditions that have been diagnosed as well as areas that have been experiencing discomfort.

After the examination, the injection site will be cleaned and disinfected with an antiseptic. Then, a local anesthetic or a numbing cream may also be administered to numb the site and relieve pain during the injection. 

Your doctor will then insert a needle directly into the area of your body and inject small amounts of steroid injections. 

[Related: How Long Does Cortisone Shot Last?]

Why Are Cortisone Shots Given?

Your healthcare provider may advise you to take cortisone shots to relieve pain and treat inflammation. But other medical conditions may require steroid injections, such as the following:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Knee and hip arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Back pain due to spinal stenosis or ruptured discs
  • Arm and leg pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Bursitis 
  • Asthma
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Lupus
  • Tendonitis
  • Gout
  • Other conditions that affect the immune system

Post-Procedure Guide

doctor discussing what to do after a cortisone shot to a patient

Now that you have received a quick introduction to cortisone injections and why they are administered, let’s discuss ways to make yourself as comfortable as possible after receiving one.

Rest and Recovery

After receiving a cortisone shot, your body needs to take time off to rest and recover. Depending on where cortisone shots were administered, you may need to restrict your activities for several days for the medication to take full effect.

We highly recommend refraining from strenuous exercise or activities that put undue strain on the affected area for at least 24 to 48 hours after receiving injections. Following this recommendation can reduce the swelling on the injection site. It also gives your body more comfort as it recovers. 

Giving your body enough rest can lower the likelihood of complications. After taking enough rest even before the 24-hour recovery period is up, you may continue doing light physical activities like walking and stretching. 

Once you no longer feel pain from the injection, you can resume your normal daily activities.

Pain Management

It is normal to experience some discomfort after receiving a cortisone shot, particularly within the first 24-48 hours. This discomfort usually ranges from mild to moderate and can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

However, if you experience severe pain, fever, or any other unusual symptoms after receiving your injection, contact your healthcare provider immediately. These could be signs of infection or other complications like allergic reactions that require immediate medical care.

Warm and Cold 

For easy home treatment, you can also apply alternating hot and cold compresses on the injection area. This can reduce intense pain and swelling after the injection. Apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times daily during the first few days after your injection.

After 48 hours, you can switch to heat therapy to promote blood flow and healing to the affected area. You can use a heating pad or take a warm bath or shower for 15-20 minutes at a time.

Follow-Up Care

After receiving a cortisone shot, it is usually important to set up an appointment with your healthcare provider to monitor progress, assess medication effectiveness, and look out for any potential side effects or complications. This helps ensure you receive all necessary assistance during this time of adjustment.

Your healthcare provider may suggest physical therapy or other rehabilitation exercises to help you regain strength and mobility in the affected area. Follow their advice and attend any recommended appointments or therapy sessions to achieve the best possible result.

doctor and patient

Things You Should NOT Do After Cortisone Shots

Though there are many ways to promote healing after a cortisone shot, there are also some things you should avoid. These include the following:

  • Avoid applying heat or cold therapy for too long or frequently, as this can irritate your skin and surrounding tissues.
  • Do not apply ice directly to the injection site. Use a cloth or an ice bag on the injection site. Avoid leaving it on for more than 15 minutes.
  • Avoid engaging in strenuous activities or exercise too soon after receiving an injection as this may exacerbate inflammation and slow down healing.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol or smoking as this can slow down the body’s healing process and put you at greater risk for complications.
  • Corticosteroids should never be combined with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or naproxen, since they may interfere with the effectiveness of the treatment plan.
  • Do not neglect any unusual symptoms or side effects that could be indicative of a more serious complication that requires medical intervention.

How Long Should You Rest After the Cortisone Injection?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), patients need to avoid strenuous activity or exercise for the first 48 hours after the cortisone injection. However, patients should discuss specific activity restrictions with their healthcare provider, as recommendations may vary depending on the individual and the specific condition being treated.

Live a Pain-Free Life Starting Today!

Cortisone shots are effective pain relievers for individuals battling arthritis and other health problems that cause inflammation. Our doctors at Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott can ensure a comfortable cortisone shot administration for all your aches and pains. We specialize in treating medical conditions associated with arteries and veins. 

We offer effective and reliable treatments to give you the best possible vascular health care. Set an appointment with us today!

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.