Complications of cortisone shots can include:

  • Joint infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Thinning of skin and soft tissue around the injection site
  • Temporary flare of pain and inflammation in the joint
  • Tendon weakening or rupture
  • Thinning of nearby bone (osteoporosis)
  • Whitening or lightening of the skin around the injection site
  • Death of nearby bone (osteonecrosis)
  • Temporary increase in blood sugar

Limits on the number of cortisone shots

There's concern that repeated cortisone shots might cause the cartilage within a joint to deteriorate. So doctors typically limit the number of cortisone shots into a joint.

In general, you shouldn't get cortisone injections more often than every six weeks and usually not more than three or four times a year.