Alternatives to Cortisone Shots

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If you have a patient with debilitating joint pain, you may have recommended or administered a cortisone shot. Cortisone shots, also known as corticosteroid injections, are a type of steroid medication designed to reduce inflammation and pain. 

Cortisone shots often come to mind as a fast and effective pain solution. However, they are not without their own set of risks, and it is important to be aware of your options. 

In this blog post, we will explore what cortisone shots actually are, how they work, and what the potential risks are. We will also discuss some of the alternatives to cortisone shots that can be just as effective for your patients.

How Does Cortisone Work?

Cortisone is a steroid designed to mimic the effects of cortisol, a hormone produced by the body when it is under stress. Cortisol helps to reduce inflammation and swelling by affecting the body’s immune response. Doses of cortisone are used to reduce the excessive inflammation that results from certain joint conditions and is most often administered in an injection.

Cortisone shots typically consist of a corticosteroid drug and a local anesthetic which numbs the area prior to the injection. These chemicals are injected directly into the affected area, such as a joint or tendon, and work by suppressing the body’s immune response to the area. This suppresses the inflammation associated with the condition, which in turn reduces pain. 

Cortisone shots can be used to treat a variety of conditions that involve inflammation of the tendons, muscles, and joints, such as:

  • Arthritis of all kinds
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Back pain
  • Gout
  • Autoimmune disorders

The injection of the corticosteroid drug can provide quick relief of symptoms, such as pain and swelling, without the need for oral medications or surgery. In some cases, the cortisone can actually help heal the area, as it can stimulate cartilage and tendon growth.

Cortisone shots can also be used in combination with other treatments, such as physical therapy or surgery, to help treat the condition. However, it is important to note that cortisone shots are usually not recommended as a long-term solution, as they can have a number of potential side effects.

What Are the Potential Risks of Cortisone Shots?

Cortisone shots are not without their risks. One of the most common risks is an infection at the injection site. In order to reduce the risk of infection, it is important to ensure that the injection is done in a sterile environment. Additionally, cortisone shots can cause thinning of the skin at the injection site, as well as discoloration.

In some cases, cortisone shots can also cause an increase in blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes. 

It is also strongly recommended that cortisone shots are not administered to patients more than once every six weeks or more than three to four times a year. This is because the repeated use of cortisone can cause damage to a patient’s joints, cartilage, tendons, bones, and nerves.

Due to these potential side effects, cortisone shots may not be recommended at all for some patients, which creates the needs for alternative treatments.

What Are the Alternatives to Cortisone Shots?

There are several alternatives to cortisone shots that can provide relief from inflammation and pain without the potential risks associated with cortisone shots.

Physical Therapy

One potential alternative for the treatment of joint pain is physical therapy. Physical therapy can help to strengthen and stretch the affected muscles and tendons, and can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Additionally, physical therapy can help to improve mobility and range of motion in the affected area.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

PRP therapy is a relatively new treatment method that uses the body’s natural healing properties to treat joint pain. By injecting platelet-rich plasma directly into the affected joint, doctors are able to reduce pain and improve joint function. PRP therapy is thought to rebuild damaged tissue, reduce inflammation, and stimulate joint lubrication, which can ease stiffness and reduce discomfort. In addition, the plasma may contain proteins that can change the way a patient’s body perceives pain.

Tissue Regeneration Technologies

Tissue regeneration technologies include medical devices that use patented acoustic wave technology. These technologies can be used to administer shockwave therapy, which is a non-invasive treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain. It involves using low-intensity shockwaves (acoustic waves) to penetrate deep tissues.

The shockwaves generated by the therapy increase blood circulation in the affected area, resulting in increased metabolism and increased tissue regeneration. This helps to reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and promote healing.

Studies have shown that this therapy is effective in reducing pain and improving function in patients with chronic and acute joint pain, including knee pain, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendinitis. This therapy is also a safe and effective alternative to traditional treatments, such as cortisone shots.


If you are interested in offering your patients an alternative to cortisone shots, shockwave therapy might be just what you are looking for. Overall, shockwave therapy is a safe, non-invasive treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain. It can provide lasting relief for many different kinds of joint pain, without the risks associated with more invasive treatments.

Contact SoftWave today to learn more about this revolutionary treatment and start the conversation about becoming a provider of SoftWave Tissue Regeneration Technologies.

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