Get to know cortisone

You’re at the gym, right? You’re really working your tail off, pushing yourself to the limit and really testing your body’s pain threshold — when all of a sudden, your muscles and joints are on fire. You realize that they are so swollen, and the inflammation is really holding you back from truly experiencing a good workout.

Enter cortisone.


Also known as corticosteroid, it is a 21-carbon glucocorticoid that is one of the main hormones released by the adrenal gland when someone is faced with stress (like acute pain in your muscles and joints). Cortisone works by suppressing the immune system — this helps when one suffers from autoimmune diseases, getting an organ transplant or (like our original example) when someone suffers from painful inflammation.

However, people should be careful and cognizant of their reaction to cortisone administration. The “cortisone flare” is seen amongst 2% of patients, in which injected cortisone shots actually crystallize in the area where the cortisone is administered, thus exacerbating the pain. Also, excessive shots administered to an area may cause the degradation of cartilage and tendons. If you do get multiple shots, you will likely be advised to receive them three months apart from each other to prevent this degradation. Diabetics should also be especially wary due to the possibility of hyperglycemia from cortisone shots.