Dr. Tommy

Concierge Medicine Tampa Bay


What is a cortisone shot?
The 'cortisone shot' is a widely used term in orthopedic medicine. Some patients utter the term with fear as they remember the time the orthopedist coldy jammed a long needle into their swollen knee. Others remember getting one that resolved long-standing shoulder pain years ago and how they 'haven't had a problem since.'

The 'cortisone' in the shot is a generic term we use for corticosteroid; much like we use Kleenex for tissue. There are several different types of steroid used: Celestone, Kenalog, Decadron. Different doctors have their preferences. I usually use Kenalog (triamcinolone is the generic name). Steroid injections are useful for rotator cuff tendonitis, osteoarthritis, carpel tunnel syndrome, and a variety of other joint and soft tissue injections. In general you shouldn't get a steroid injection more often than 2-3 times/year.

Care should be taken in patients with diabetes as the steroid can raise blood glucose levels temporarily. Also the underlying cause should be identified and treated if possible (e.g. rotator cuff tendonitis). But when you can't raise your arm above your head, or your elbow is killing you every time you grip something, a 'cortisone' shot can be a lifesaver!