Corticosteroids are a class of medications that are related to a steroid called cortisone. They are effective in reducing pain in soft tissues and joints. Cortisone is produced naturally in the body in the adrenal gland. It places a role in the body when it is under stress; stress causes an increase of cortisone in the bloodstream as a result. The cortisone used in inject able cortisone is made synthetically and goes by many trade names like Kenalog or Celestone.
They are produced to be as closely like natural cortisone, however, the differences are:
1) the synthetic cortisone is not injected into the bloodstream,
2) it is much more potent, and
3) it lasts much longer than natural cortisone. This is helpful in the way that the inflammation will be kept at bay longer.
This offers extended relief to patients that suffer from inflammatory conditions. Tendons, bursa, and joints can be relieved of pain quickly through cortisone injections. Since corticosteroids have such strong anti-inflammatory properties, they are very effective when administered by an expert.
Is a cortisone injection a quick fix for pain relief?
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory agents, not pain relievers. However, as the result of the reduced inflammation, this will tend to help relieve pain. Corticosteroid injections can work for many months or even years if it is given properly. They can permanently resolve some diseases where the problem is tissue inflammation such as bursitis or tendonitis.
How is it used for back and leg pain?
There are three main types of cortisone injections for back and leg pain. Doctors will prescribe epidural steroid injections to relieve back and leg pain where it will act on inflamed nerve endings. It is injected into the dura, a membrane that houses the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
This is to reduce the swelling of spinal nerves and hopefully decrease the pain associated with the inflammation. Epidural injections in the lumbar region are done under X-ray guidance or what they call fluoroscopy. These injections are effective in cases of sciatica and other back issues that involve inflammation.
What are the advantages of cortisone injections?
Doctors will prescribe epidural steroid injections to relieve back and leg pain where it will act on inflamed nerve endings. When there is inflammation, cortisone will work very quickly to reduce it. Cortisone injections work in the local area of the inflammation so that it is focused in one region of the body whereas oral medication works all over the body, even where it isn’t needed. It is much more powerful than traditional anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Oral analgesics like aspirin can cause stomach irritation as well. Cortisone injections can be done at the doctor’s office so it doesn’t require a hospital visit. The best assets of cortisone shots are the dependability of the medication, the quick onset, and the minimal side effects.
If a patient is the breadwinner of the family, this can be a great treatment that will allow that patient to get back to work sooner and without debilitating pain. Low, intermittent doses of cortisone injections pose little risk of side effects like oral anti-inflammatory.