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Side effects of cortisone injections

Updated on September 27, 2011

Corticosteroids (cortisone) effects and side effects

Steroids (such as cortisone, both pills and injections) are potent drugs that can reduce the inflammatory process. They are used in a variety of diseases such as disease involving the inflammation on a part of the body (e.g. arthritis) and in autoimmune diseases in which the body attacks itself (inflammation, too) to help modulate (and suppress) this over reaction. They relief pain in many cases because of their anti-inflammatory action.

Cortisone is naturaly present in our bodies (secreted by the adrenal gland) in certain levels and it helps our bodies to deal with stressfull situation and affects our metabolism, too. The prolonged use of cortisone as a treatment or with large doses can cause many side effects and may even cause a condition called "Cushingoid disease" which resembles Cushing's syndrome (a disease in which the body secretes excess cortisone more than normal). So, in case of being treated with steroids, compliance to the doctor's instructions regarding the doses and the duration of treatment is very important. Cortisone is available in many forms and can be given by different routes (inhalation, oral, intravenous injections, injection of joints in arthritis and it can be applied to skin).

Some examples of diseases that are treated with corticosteroids include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, nephrotic syndrome, asthma and urticaria.

Side effects of cortisone

Remember that I'm not creticising cortisone here. It's a very important drug in treating many diseases and can be life saving. But just like most of the drugs : it has side effects and it's one of those drugs with serious side efects. So you should be careful about the doses and for how long you should take it.

Side effects include:

  • Suppression of the immunity and delayed healing of wounds. This will also be associated with high incidence of infections.
  • Moon face (roundiing of the face) which is reversible after stopping the drug.
  • Mobilization of fats in the body from the legs anf thighs to th face and the back.
  • Hypertension.
  • Diabetes Mellitus and increased blood sugar.
  • Thinning of the skin.
  • Thinning and weakening of blood vessels which may lead to bleeding due to injusry of blood capillaries (the skin may become thin which makes it more liable to be injured).
  • Acne and menstrual disturbances.
  • Psychological and behavioural disturbances, mood changes and even suicidal tendency.
  • Osteoporosis.


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    • profile image

      Bad attitude 8 years ago

      I was injured and workers comp denied the claim, desperate for pain relief a doctor repeatedly injected my multiple injuries and now I have developed cushinggoid features, masive swelling, thin skin, easy bleeding, I have received no help curing this problem.

    • Mezo profile image

      Motaz 8 years ago from Egypt

      thnx alot for yor commenting:)

      yes thats right, even with minimal doses (for prolonged use) you should consider the risk

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Excellent notes to remember, particularly about the side effects of cortisone. Is helpful short term, more detrimental long term.

      Very low doses(i.e. 2.5 to 5 mg daily) are sometimes necessary for long term use, but even at this minimal dose risks must be weighed pro and con. Also cortisone antagonistic is 7Keto DHEA.