Dr John J Ryan Higher Diploma in Sports Medicine
About hydrocortisone injections, Knee, Shoulder, Hip, Golfer elbow, Tennis elbow and Plantar Fasciitis
Hydrocortisone injections – or ‘steroid injections’ – are a type of medicine known as a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids are not the same as anabolic steroids. Dr John J Ryan has worked with both professional rugby teams as a current IRFU member and with tennis players in Leinster for over 20 years in this area of medicine. After doing a higher diploma in Sports Medicine with the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland Dr Ryan extended his sports medicine service to tennis players and golfers.
Hydrocortisone injections are used to treat swollen or painful joints, such as after an injury or in arthritis.
The hydrocortisone is injected directly into the painful joint. This is also called an intra-articular injection. The joints most often injected are the shoulder, elbow, knee, hand/wrist and hip.
Hydrocortisone injections are also used to treat painful tendons and bursitis (when a small bag of fluid which cushions a joint gets inflamed). They’re sometimes used to treat muscle pain when it’s in a particular area.
The injections usually help relieve pain and swelling, and make movement easier. The benefits can last for several months.
Hydrocortisone injections are only available on prescription. They are given by expertly specially trained Doctor John J Ryan in his Private GP’s Surgery D2 Medical 4 Fitzwilliam Square East Dublin 2.
In an emergency, medical staff may give higher dose hydrocortisone injections to treat severe asthma, allergic reactions, severe shock due to injury or infection, or failure of the adrenal glands.
- Hydrocortisone injections for joint pain work by releasing the medicine slowly into the joint. This reduces pain and swelling.
- After an injection, your joint may feel better for several months – sometimes as long as a year.
- Some people get increased pain and swelling in the joint where the injection was given. This pain tends to go away after a few days.
Hydrocortisone injections into the same place can be repeated up to 4 times a year – more often can cause long-term joint damage.
Who can and can’t have hydrocortisone injections
Adults and children can have hydrocortisone injections.
Hydrocortisone injections aren’t suitable for some people. Tell your doctor before starting the medicine if you:
- have ever had an allergic reaction to hydrocortisone or any other medicine
- have an infection (including an eye infection)
- are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or you are breastfeeding
- have recently had, or will soon have, any vaccinations
- Make sure your doctor knows if you have:
- any unhealed wounds
- an eye problems like glaucoma
- weak or fragile bones
If you have diabetes and monitor your own blood sugar, you will need to do this more often. Hydrocortisone injections can affect your blood sugar control.
How and when to have them
If the injection is for pain, it may contain a local anaesthetic.
You can go home after the injection but you may need to rest the area that was treated for a few days.
You can have a hydrocortisone injection into the same joint up to 3 times in a year.
If you have arthritis, this type of treatment is only used when just a few joints are affected. Usually, no more than 3 joints are injected at a time.
The dose of hydrocortisone injected depends on the size of the joint. It can vary between 5mg and 50mg of hydrocortisone.
Will the dose I have go up or down?
The amount of hydrocortisone in the injection could go up or down in future. It depends on how well the previous injection worked, how long the benefits lasted and whether you had any side effects.
Most people don’t have any side effects after a hydrocortisone injection. Side effects are less likely if only one part of the body is injected.
Common side effects
The most common side effect is intense pain and swelling in the joint where the injection was given. This usually gets better after a day or two.
You may also get some bruising where the injection was given. This should go away after a few days.
Dr John J Ryan Higher Diploma in Sports Medicine Royal College of Surgeons Ireland