Pain, along with swelling, reddening, and a sensation of heat, is a common symptom of inflammation, the body’s immune response to injury. When the body is under stress, it releases cortisol, a steroid produced naturally by the adrenal gland that suppresses the immune response, reducing inflammation. However, natural cortisol is relatively short-acting, whereas synthetic cortisol, or cortisone, is more potent and lasts longer, making it ideal for an injection at the site of inflammation.
Injected cortisone has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and when inflammation decreases, so does pain. Injected cortisone usually provides relief within a few days, and the effects can last up to several weeks.
Common injuries and conditions that can benefit from a cortisone shot include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Trigger finger
The injection itself can be slightly painful, especially when applied to a joint. However, when it is administered by a skilled specialist, it is usually tolerated well.