Limits on the number of cortisone shots

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Are Cortisone Injections Bad for You?

There’s concern that repeated cortisone shots might damage the cartilage within a joint. 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.

How you prepare

If you take blood thinners, you might need to stop taking them for several days before your cortisone shot to reduce bleeding or bruising risk. Some dietary supplements also have a blood-thinning effect. Ask your doctor what medications and supplements you should avoid before your cortisone shot.

Tell your doctor if you’ve had a temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or greater in the previous two weeks.

What you can expect

During the cortisone shot

Your doctor might ask you to change into a gown. You’ll then be positioned so that your doctor can easily insert the needle.

The area around the injection site is cleaned. Your doctor might also apply an anesthetic spray to numb the area where the needle will be inserted. In some cases, your doctor might use ultrasound or a type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to watch the needle’s progress inside your body — so as to place it in the right spot.

You’ll likely feel some pressure when the needle is inserted. Let your doctor know if you have a lot of discomfort.

The medication is then released into the injection site. Typically, cortisone shots include a corticosteroid medication to relieve pain and inflammation over time and an anesthetic to provide immediate pain relief.

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