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Cortisone Injection: Is It Right for You?


In 2009 I took a hard tumble off my bike. Not about to let a little fall get the best of me, I dusted myself off and continued to ride. Once home, I assessed my injuries and decided my pride took more of a bruising then my body.

Boy was I wrong. I had landed squarely on my hip and the damage the area suffered has plagued me since. I’ve tried foam rolling, deep tissue massage, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments and Active Release Technique. They all offer temporary relief but for the most part, I live with a dull ache that is exacerbated with exercise, sitting (especially for extended periods), climbing stairs and sleeping on my right hip.

Fast-forward to my most recent physical. When I complained about my nagging pain the doc offered me a cortisone injection. With nothing to lose I took the shot. Within days, the pain was 90 percent gone. Gone! After seven freaking years!

I’ve since learned that cortisone is the synthetic, more powerful, version of our body’s natural hormone, cortisol. When we suffer an injury, pain and inflammation alert the body to a problem. As we rest and allow the body to heal, cortisol steps in to turn down the inflammation so that the body can get back to normal.

If the injured site does not get enough rest, the inflammation may become chronic. Down the road, this can lead to muscle atrophy, arthritis, calcium deposits and general tissue destruction.

A cortisone injection offers pain relief and in some cases can resolve troublesome issues by permanently reducing the inflammation. Often, more than one shot is necessary. Get informed first; cortisone injections are not risk-free, so don’t make the decision lightly.

Our bodies are not invincible and old injuries often come back to haunt us. You can’t live your life in a plastic bubble, but going the extra mile when something in your body hurts or feels off might make you feel like a badass, but in the long run you’ll probably pay. Address injuries in a timely manner. Pain or discomfort that lasts longer than three weeks warrant a trip to the doctor.

(One month update: I have only had the one shot, but some of the symptoms have returned and I’m now about 75 percent pain-free. Although I remain cautiously optimistic, I worry that the aggravation may be something I am destined to live with.)

Were you taught to “shake it off?”  —Karen

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