Cortisone Injection Therapy
What Are Corticosteroid Injections?
Cortisone is a hormone that is naturally produced by your body's adrenal gland as a response to stress. Cortisone injections contain a synthetic version of this substance and are given as an injection directly into the injured tissue. Unlike natural cortisone, synthetic cortisone is not injected into the blood stream and therefore has no effect on the rest of the body.
What Are the Benefits Of Cortisone Injections?
Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory substance. It can lead to significant relief of pain. If your body responds well to cortisone, you are likely to experience relief within 2-3 weeks that can last for many months. Some patients may require multiple injections before complete relief is experienced or may require on-going injections to manage pain. It is important to understand that cortisone injections are not recommended in isolation and are likely to only work in the long-term if administered as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
What Are The Risks Of Cortisone Injections?
Before taking any drug, it is important that you discuss its risks, benefits and possible side effects with your podiatric surgeon. Unfortunately, use of cortisone does carry risks. One of the main risks of having a cortisone injection can be a 'cortisone flare', in which pain actually initially gets worse before it improves. Pain can go on for several days before relief is experienced. This side effect occurs in about 5% of cases.
A side effect sometimes experienced by patients is a lightening of the skin colour at the treatment site. This is termed hypopigmentation. This is painless.
Multiple injections of cortisone in the same area can cause a natural reduction in the local soft tissue padding. This may cause joints to become more pronounced which can be a source of pain in some parts of the foot.
The risks of tendon or ligament rupture and localized infection at the injection site have also been reported in the literature but such complications are extremely rare.
Are Cortisone Injections covered by private medical insurance?
Yes all private medical insurance companies cover cortisone injections. Most will allow up to three injections per condition. Self-funding packages are also available.
Foot and ankle conditions that can be treated with cortisone injections:
Joint arthritis or inflammation
Some tendon disorders
Some nerve injuries
What to expect with this treatment
A consultation will be required to assess your foot problem and determine the most appropriate course of treatment. Diagnostic imaging such as ultrasound or MRI scan may need to be performed.
Injections are administered under aseptic conditions. Some injections are given under local anaesthetic block or the steroid is mixed with local anaesthetic. After the injection the area will feel numb. It is important to rest the foot for the remainder of the day and avoid prolonged standing or walking. Also it is recommended to avoid activities that make your pain worse for 2-3 days after the injection to maximize the positive effect of the injection.