When it comes to shoulder conditions every therapy aims to keep the pain and inflammation in check and to restore to some extent the functionality as well. When the usual treatments for shoulder pain fails to yield results then the next option before resorting to surgery is taking injections that contain corticosteroids. Steroid injections especially target the pain causing areas. Injection therapy is obviously much less medically invasive when compared to surgery and results are also often felt immediately.
The medicines used for the steroid injection are actually synthetic drugs that resemble cortisol, which is a hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands. These are different from hormone performance enhancement drugs that some athletes use. These corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory properties and that is how it can help relieve pain in the shoulders. Steroid injections can be taken easily in the doctor’s office and the one thing to remember is that the effectiveness of the injection therapy may vary from person to person and can also depend on how much the conditions have advanced. So let your doctor be the best judge to decide if steroid injection is suitable for you.
Now the areas where the injections will be given will depend on the different shoulder conditions that the steroid injections are meant to treat. Bursal injections aim for the bursa above the shoulder tendons and this can help with pain from shoulder or rotator cuff tendonitis. Injections administered at the joints target the shoulder ball and socket joint and are meant to treat frozen shoulder or shoulder joint arthritis. Acromioclavicular joint (AC joint) injections are used to treat pain at the top of the shoulder coming from acromioclavicular degeneration. Long head of biceps tendon injections are given to treat biceps tendonitis that cause pain at the front of the shoulder.
As for the procedure, before getting a steroid injection for a shoulder condition, the doctor or nurse will clean the injection site with an alcohol swab. Some anaesthetic solution can help manage the minimal discomfort of the steroid injection. Only a slight burning or pressure will be felt. An ultrasound could be used in order to increase the accuracy and precision of a steroid injection and thereby improve the effectiveness of the injection. After the injection, a bandage will be applied. In the case of injecting a joint, the excess joint fluid may have to be drawn out using a separate syringe.
The anaesthetic should wear off after a few hours. Ice or over-the-counter medication may be used to relieve any post-injection discomfort. Full function can be resumed after getting the injection but it is best to avoid any strenuous activity for approximately 2 weeks. Some people may have a warm feeling in their face and chest after a shot. If you are diabetic, you may have a temporary increase in your blood sugar levels. The steroid injection usually takes around 1-2 days to experience its full effect with reduced inflammation and decreased shoulder pain.
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