According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 4 million people in the U.S. suffer from shoulder problems annually. Doctors often use shoulder injections as an effective treatment to relieve joint pain and improve mobility in your shoulder. It is important to diagnose the cause of your shoulder pain in order to maximize the effectiveness of the shoulder injection. At EmergeOrtho—Blue Ridge Region, our board-certified physicians have the diagnostic tools and years of experience to precisely determine the source of your shoulder pain and provide appropriate, meaningful treatment so you can get back to your active lifestyle.
What Shoulder Conditions Does a Shoulder Injection Treat?
At EmergeOrtho, we first try conservative treatments such as rest, pain medications, and physical therapy to alleviate shoulder pain. If these treatments are not successful, we typically recommend shoulder injections. Some people are confused by the difference between steroid and cortisone injections. For any pain or inflammation related to bones, muscles, and joints, steroid and cortisone injections are effectively the same injection. They are a type of anti-inflammatory drug commonly used for shoulder pain and swelling. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced naturally by the body to reduce inflammation. Cortisone injections imitate our natural cortisol to reduce pain and inflammation.
A steroid injection can successfully treat pain and swelling caused by several different shoulder conditions:
- Arthritis in the shoulder joint
- Bone spurs in the shoulder area
- Bursitis—inflammation around fluid-filled sacs that ease movement and protect joints
- Erosion of the AC Joint
- Broken shoulder bone
- Dislocated shoulder bone
- Shoulder separation
- Frozen shoulder—stiffness in muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Overuse or injury of nearby tendons
- Nerve injury
- Tears of the rotator cuff tendons
- Rotator cuff impingement
What Are the Types of Steroid Injections?
The cause and location of shoulder pain play an important part in the effectiveness of injections to the shoulder. The injections must be directly targeted at the area of the pain in order to reduce the inflammation. Common targets of the injections include:
Bursal injections target the bursa, which are small sacs that carry fluid for ease of movement and most often are used for shoulder or rotator cuff tendonitis.
Shoulder joint injections aim at the shoulder ball and socket joint to alleviate frozen shoulder or shoulder joint arthritis.
AC joint injections treat AC degeneration at the top of the shoulder.
Long head of biceps tendon injections target tendinitis in the biceps and front of the shoulder.
Suprascapular nerve block aims at shoulder arthritis and inoperable rotator cuff tears.
As part of our commitment to provide the top shoulder care in the region, we utilize the most advanced diagnostic and imaging tools and nonsurgical techniques to help pinpoint the cause of your shoulder pain and target the precise area, so you receive relief quickly and accurately.
How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Last?
A cortisone shot can start to work immediately. Relief from the pain can start within a few days of the shot, but can sometimes take up to a few weeks. Most people who receive a cortisone shot have experienced relief from the pain for up to six weeks.
The amount of inflammation, the type of injection, and other factors can all affect how quickly the pain goes away. If your inflammation is severe, or if you’ve had the pain for a long time, the shot may take longer to work. In some cases, doctors may recommend a second dose.
Cortisone shoulder injections have a number of benefits, including the minimal side effects and long-lasting pain relief. It is important to note cortisone shots may not be right for you. Meeting with an orthopedic physician experienced in shoulder pain is a good first step toward alleviating your shoulder pain.
What if a Cortisone Shot Doesn’t Work?
Most patients experience relief from a cortisone shot to the shoulder within days. If you don’t get relief after six weeks or if the pain returns after the injection wears off, a doctor may consider surgery. Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery, often used for rotator cuff tears or shoulder impingement. Orthopedic surgeons can use a small camera inserted into small incisions in the shoulder. Minimally invasive procedures require smaller incisions than traditional surgery. When performed by an experienced surgeon, the procedure has an approximately 90% success rate.
If you are experiencing regular pain or decreased mobility in your shoulder, let the board-certified shoulder experts at EmergeOrtho—Blue Ridge Region examine, diagnose, and treat your shoulder pains, so you can start living the pain-free life you deserve. Schedule your appointment or call 828.407.1700 to speak to one or our shoulder experts.