Your doctor may ask you to remove your clothing and change into a gown. You'll then be positioned in a way that allows your doctor to most easily insert the needle.
The area around the injection site is cleaned. Your doctor may also apply an anesthetic spray to numb the area where the needle will be inserted. In some cases, your doctor may use ultrasound or a type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to watch the needle's progress inside your body — so it will be placed in exactly the right spot.
You'll likely feel some pressure when the needle is inserted. Let your doctor know if you're uncomfortable.
The medication is then released into the injection site. Typically, cortisone shots include a corticosteroid medication to relieve pain and inflammation over time and an anesthetic to provide immediate pain relief.
After the cortisone shot
Some people experience redness and a feeling of warmth of the chest and face after receiving a cortisone shot. If you have diabetes, a cortisone shot might temporarily increase your blood sugar levels.
After your cortisone shot, your doctor may ask that you:
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- Protect the injection area for a day or two. For instance, if you received a cortisone shot in your shoulder, avoid heavy lifting. If you received a cortisone shot in your knee, stay off your feet when you can.
- Apply ice to the injection site as needed to relieve pain.
- Watch for signs of infection, including increasing pain, redness and swelling that last more than 48 hours.
- Roberts WN. Intraarticular and soft tissue injections: What agent(s) to inject and how frequently? http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1807/0.html. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- Joint injection/aspiration. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/jointinjection.asp. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- Roberts WN, et al. Joint aspiration or injection in adults: Complications. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- AskMayoExpert. Spinal injections. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- AskMayoExpert Steroid dosing and side effects. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Joint injections. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2011.