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How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Last?

By Margo Dill ; Updated July 27, 2017

What a Cortisone Shot Does

Cortisone, a hormone, is produced naturally in the body, so there are very few allergic reactions. As a matter of fact, cortisone injections may be used with people who have extreme allergies. These shots are used to help with inflammation, dissolve scar tissue, speed up healing and get rid of some cysts. Cortisone shots are mostly used to relieve pain and swelling in a certain area such as knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. Many people with arthritis receive cortisone shots.

Variables

A cortisone shot may last a different amount of time in different people, depending on several variables. These injections have been known to help people one time (no more shots are ever needed), for one month, for a few days, or just a few hours. Here are some of the variables for you and your physician to consider when thinking about cortisone shots: the amount of inflammation in the body, the cause of the inflammation and your age and overall health. Cortisone by itself is not used much with today's doctors because it does not last long enough. If you get a "cortisone" shot, you are actually getting a semi-artificial cortisone derivative such as DepoMedrol or Kenalog.

Side Effects and Problems

If a cortisone shot does not seem to be lasting very long or only providing temporary relief, then health experts suggest exploring other possible treatments with your physician. If it is not working, then there is no use continuing this treatment. Cortisone shots can have side effects and cause other problems in your body. In animals, cortisone shots have been shown to weaken tendons if they are injected into the tendon directly. Problems can also exist if the injection is given in a joint--it can soften cartilage. Physicians may limit the amount of shots into a joint in a month to avoid these problems. For example, people with rheumatoid arthritis may only receive one shot into a joint once a month.

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