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How can a cortisone shot help with shoulder impingement?


A cortisone shot is crucial for treating shoulder injuries like impingement, often averting the necessity for surgery when coupled with rehabilitation. This potent anti-inflammatory medication, available for injection since the 1950s, diminishes swelling and discourages excessive scarring in both short- and long-term inflammation. Corticosteroid injections are essential for alleviating shoulder problems by reducing inflammation and improving mobility, potentially avoiding surgery, particularly when combined with rehabilitation efforts.

What is a shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingement syndrome is also known as rotator cuff tendonitis. It happens when the tendons or bursa in the shoulder get squeezed by the shoulder joints. It’s often nicknamed “swimmer’s shoulder” or “thrower’s shoulder” because activities like swimming or throwing can lead to this problem. The repeated pressure in the shoulder’s subacromial space causes inflammation and irritation. If not addressed, this inflammation can worsen, potentially leading to other shoulder issues like bone spurs, labral tears, or even a torn rotator cuff.

What are the symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome?

The main symptom of shoulder impingement is a gradually worsening pain, often felt on the side and front of the shoulder joint, especially during overhead movements. Some people also experience discomfort when extending the arm sideways and rotating it outward, which can persist and disrupt daily activities such as dressing.

How do you diagnose shoulder impingement syndrome?

Your doctor can diagnose shoulder impingement syndrome through a physical examination. They’ll review your medical history to understand your symptoms and any past shoulder injuries. During the examination, your doctor will assess your shoulder’s range of motion, pinpoint areas of pain, and identify positions that cause discomfort. They may also order an X-ray to rule out conditions like arthritis or detect bone spurs.

How can a cortisone injection for shoulder impingement help?

Cortisone injections are effective for treating various musculoskeletal issues, particularly acute inflammation (like acute bursitis) and degenerative joint and tendon conditions. These injections should only be administered after a thorough diagnosis, which includes reviewing medical history, conducting a clinical examination, and often, imaging tests such as X-rays, ultrasounds, or MRI scans, if needed. Typically, they’re recommended after a 4-6 week period of rest, anti-inflammatory treatments, medications, and a physiotherapy program when initial treatments have not been successful.

Benefits of shoulder impingement cortisone injection

Cortisone is a highly effective steroid injection for shoulder impingement that reduces inflammation and alleviates the pain and swelling associated with shoulder impingement. Here’s how it works:

Mimics cortisol

Cortisone has strong anti-inflammatory effects. When injected into affected joints, muscles, or tendons, cortisone effectively reduces inflammation and discomfort, improving joint function. It’s important to understand that cortisone injections don’t directly relieve pain but instead alleviate it by targeting inflammation. Using ultrasound imaging ensures accurate injections, enhancing comfort during the procedure for many people.

Offers fast pain relief

Cortisone injections typically provide relief within 3 to 5 days, though outcomes vary among individuals. Many patients experience pain relief lasting several weeks or months. If discomfort returns after this period, another injection can be scheduled. It’s advisable not to exceed three shots per year. You can consult with Dr. Pifer to explore suitable treatment options tailored to your condition.

Engages you in rehab exercises

Cortisone injections are important for treating various shoulder issues, but they’re not used alone. They’re part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes other therapies. These injections offer sufficient relief, enabling you to participate in rehabilitation exercises without experiencing pain. By improving joint movement and function, cortisone injections make it easier and more comfortable to do exercises, which helps strengthen and heal the shoulder joint.

More benefits of cortisone injections

Besides what we talked about earlier, here are additional good things about cortisone injections:

  • There’s no need for general anesthesia: The doctors will just spray a little numbing stuff where they put the needle. A machine helps them aim right, so it goes where it should.
  • Not as many adverse effects: Shots like these cause less trouble compared to pills you swallow.
  • Helps diverse shoulder problems: These shots can fix lots of shoulder issues, like bursitis or tendonitis.

Potential side effects of getting a cortisone shot for shoulder impingement

When you get cortisone shots in a specific spot, there might be some not-so-good effects.

These could include:

  • Cortisone can enter the bloodstream when injected, which can raise blood sugar in diabetes.
  • Infection risk is very low, about 1 in 20,000 cases, but using a clean needle and alcohol helps prevent it.
  • Some patients may get a crystal flare in 1 out of 20 cases, but ice and paracetamol can manage it.
  • Skin changes like thinning and pigment loss can occur, affecting less than 1 in 100 patients.
  • Bleeding may happen, especially in those prone to bleeding easily.
  • Cortisone injections near nerves may cause a minor irritation called neuritis.

Experience Relief with a cortisone shot for shoulder impingement

For individuals struggling with shoulder impingement syndrome, cortisone injections offer significant relief by reducing inflammation and alleviating pain. These injections, when integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan alongside rehabilitation exercises, can often prevent the need for surgery. They provide fast pain relief and have minimal adverse effects compared to oral medications. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, consult with your healthcare provider to explore whether cortisone injections are a suitable option for you.


  • Diane Silva

    Diane is a travel enthusiast, content creator, and master storyteller, capturing her adventures through captivating blogs and engaging vlogs. With a passion for the great outdoors and a love for literature, she brings a unique perspective to the travel world. Whether she's exploring hidden gems or discussing the latest trends, Diane is your go-to source for all things travel and beyond.