Cortisone is the name used to explain a group of drugs normally known as corticosteroids. Cortisone is one type of corticosteroid.

Cortisone injections are commonly used for injury management to drastically decrease pain and reduce inflammation.

What Conditions Are Cortisone Injections Used For?

In respect to musculoskeletal issues, cortisone injections are administered to reduce pain and inflammation associated with a range of disorders, such as:

  • Bursitis (Eg. Trochanteric Bursitis)
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve Pain (Eg. Sciatica or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
  • Tendonopathies (Eg. Plantar Fasciopathy, tennis or golfers elbow)
  • Other conditions where inflammation is a contributor to pain (Eg. Adhesive Capsulitis or Morton’s Neuroma

Common Adverse Reactions Associated With Cortisone Injections

The most common reactions occur because the doctor has to pierce the patient’s skin with a needle. Some patients notice pain, bruising, subcutaneous fat atrophy (wasting away), soreness and possibly bleeding at the site of injection.

One study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery where rabbits were used to show the long-term effects of a single injection of corticosteroid on the biomechanical, histological, and biochemical properties of ligament-healing. It demonstrated that tendon injections were associated with decreased tensile strength, weight and load to failure. It also delayed the healing time and weakened the tissue (1).

Several other studies have shown that repeated injections can damage joints and delay the healing. For example, scientists in Greece injected cortisone-type drugs repeatedly into the joints of rabbits and showed that they damage cartilage (2).

There are numerous articles reporting adverse reactions such as tendon and fascial ruptures following corticosteroid injection treatment of various athletic injuries. An individual receiving multiple injections to a particular site most likely explains these reactions. This suggests that the more injections to a site predispose an individual to such reactions as tendon fascial ruptures.

Alternative Options To Cortisone Injections

Since cortisone injection is used for treating pain, it is only an optional procedure. Unfortunately, in many cases, cortisone injections provide only temporary relief, particularly in patients with more severe symptoms. Other alternative options can include anti-inflammatory medication, other conservative approaches (ice, laser therapy), physical therapy and chiropractic. Our Chiropractors at AHS have proven to help many patients avoid having cortisone injections who were considering it, just with some hands on conservative treatment. It is recommended that conservative treatment be the first point of call before opting for cortisone injections.

Please call your Chiropractor at AHS on 9948 2826 or visit our clinic at 9/470 Sydney Rd in Balgowlah servicing the surrounding suburbs of Allambie, Balgowlah Heights, Seaforth, Fairlight and Manly on the Northern Beaches.


  1. ME Wiggins, PD Fadale, MG Ehrlich, WR Walsh. Effects of local injection of corticosteroids on the healing of ligaments – A follow-up report. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery – American Volume. 1995(Nov);77A(11):1682-1691.
  2. G Papacrhistou, S Anagnostou, T Katsorhis. The effect of intraarticular hydrocortisone injection on the articular cartilage of rabbits. Acta Orthopaedica Scandinavica 68: Suppl. 275:OCT 1997):132-134.

Image Credit: Nicola Sapiens De Mitri