A cortisone flare is one of the many side effects of a cortisone injection, which causes pain and inflammation in the area where the injection has been administered.
Cortisone or a corticosteroids are a type of medication that is used to treat inflammation of the joints. They are not pain relievers but simply function as inflammation reducing agents, that in turn reduce pain in the joints. The relieving effects of this type of medication can last for almost a year (if administered properly), after which the inflammation may recur.
What is a Cortisone Flare?
A cortisone flare is merely a reaction of the body to a cortisone injection, particularly when administered for joint pain. However, it may occur in other cases too. It is possible to experience a flare 24-48 hours after the injection has been administered. This happens when the injection needle causes a sort of injury to the area, and results in pain and inflammation of that particular area of the body. Experts say that this can be avoided by using a thinner needle (27 gauge) to administer the injection.
On the other hand, cortisone is likely to crystallize and cause pain around the soft tissue along with the joint lining. This pain is sometimes unbearable and worse than the pain before the shot, by those who have experienced it. Though there are numerous benefits of getting a cortisone injection, some people have had to suffer from a cortisone flare. Elbow, knee or shoulder, this reaction may happen at any location in the body. However, as mentioned earlier, this condition will subside within forty eight hours, and is generally not a cause for concern. In fact, you may resort to certain remedies to temporarily relieve the pain caused by this injection.
How does it Occur?
Corticosteroids may be consumed orally, or may be administered in the form of an injection in the area that is inflamed. It is mostly used for conditions such as bursitis, tendonitis, and arthritis in the form of local injections (at the knee, shoulder, elbow or back) or systemic injections (for inflammation all over the body). Such an injection may also be administered for inflammation caused by allergic reactions and asthma. Since it is a very strong medicine, it results in certain side effects, a very prominent one being a cortisone flare.
A cortisone injection is administered directly at the location of the pain and inflammation. Though used for other conditions, it is most often used for those suffering from joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. Cortisone is also produced by the body, but this amount is not enough to treat pain when joints are inflamed. A cortisone injection, in an amount produced by the body, is then given to the patient. Since it is directly administered at the location of pain, it stays there and treats the pain in that area completely. It is this direct administration that sometimes may cause a cortisone flare in knee, shoulder, back or elbow.
Treating a Cortisone Flare
A flare may be treated by simply taking some rest and not moving the inflamed or painful area too much. Since this is one of the many side effects that subsides naturally, all you really have to do is wait. You may use an ice pack to treat the inflammation at the location of the cortisone flare. Shoulders or any other location in the body may be treated in this manner. Applying an ice pack on the affected area has also known to help. If you don’t find yourself relieved, you should speak to your doctor immediately. You are most likely to be prescribed a pain killer to treat the pain. Do not take a pain killer without speaking to your doctor first. Some pain killers have steroids and since cortisone is a steroid itself, the reaction can get worse and cause severe discomfort.
It is believed that those who experience a cortisone flare after cortisone injections are likely to have longer-lasting relief from their pains and aches, in comparison to those who do not experience this side effect of a cortisone injection. This however, has not been scientifically proven.
A cortisone injection may be administered up to 3 times a year to treat inflammation in the body, with a maximum of two joints being treated per visit. Finally, just remember that a cortisone flare is a mere side effect of an injection and is not a serious cause for concern. Even so, if you are anxious about the increased pain after the injection do consult your doctor immediately, who will then guide you with methods to attain relief from the pain.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.