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EDUCATION CENTER: Therapies

Cortisone Shots

Overview
Cortisone is a natural hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is present in the human body and, in large doses, it can have a therapeutic effect. Beginning in the 1950s, it was believed to be an effective treatment for arthritis pain. Now, shots of cortisone are usually administered only for acute flare-ups of osteoarthritis which are not helped by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Cortisone will not cure knee pain—it will only mask the problem.

Detailed Description
Specialist
Orthopedic specialist

Procedure
Cortisone is delivered locally to the knee using a needle.

Recovery
A shot of cortisone usually provides three or four months of relief before pain returns. However, the length of time a cortisone shot lasts varies from patient to patient—some people never feel knee pain again, while others experience more pain within a week.

Complications/Risks
Over the last few years, doctors have noted many disadvantages to cortisone shots. Cortisone can cause progressive degeneration in the knee by destroying articular cartilage and tendons. It also lowers the body’s resistance to infection and may cause cataracts and stomach ulceration. Physicians have become judicious about their distribution of cortisone to deaden knee pain.

See Your Doctor If
You continue to feel pain.

Last updated: 26-Oct-01


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