Risks

Complications of cortisone shots can include:

  • Joint infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Thinning of skin and soft tissue around the injection site
  • Temporary flare of pain and inflammation in the joint
  • Tendon weakening or rupture
  • Thinning of nearby bone (osteoporosis)
  • Whitening or lightening of the skin around the injection site
  • Death of nearby bone (osteonecrosis)
  • Temporary increase in blood sugar

Limits on the number of cortisone shots

There's concern that repeated cortisone shots might cause the cartilage within a joint to deteriorate. 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.

July 02, 2016
References
  1. Roberts WN. Intraarticular and soft tissue injections: What agent(s) to inject and how frequently? http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 18, 2016.
  2. Roberts WN, et al. Joint aspiration or injection in adults: Complications. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 18, 2016.
  3. AskMayoExpert. Corticosteroid injections. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  4. Use of corticosteroids in osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/medication/drug-types/corticosteroids/corticosteroid-injections.php. Accessed May 18, 2016.
  5. Joint injections (joint aspirations). American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Treatments/Joint-Injection-Aspiration. Accessed May 18, 2016.
  6. Steroid injections. American Society of Surgery of the Hand. http://www.assh.org/handcare/procedures-and-treatment/steroid-injection. Accessed May 18, 2016.
  7. Provenzano DA, et al. Joint injections. In: Practical Management of Pain. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 20, 2016.
  8. Firestein GS, et al. Athrocentesis and injection of joints and soft tissue. In: Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 20, 2016.
  9. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Joint injections. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2011.