Considering a cortisone injection?

I treat a lot of pain in my work as an acupuncturist. Many of my patients come to me from doctors who want to give them cortisone shots. Cortisone shots sometimes give near miraculous relief from pain, but amongst my patient population, it really seems like a 50-50 type of outcome. Often the pain relief is only temporary, even if the patient has the 3 shots allowed by their doctor.

Why only 3 shots? Cortisone causes deterioration in the tissue and bone around the injection site, and it’s thought that you can have up to three shots without causing major problems. It’s crazy to us in the natural health community that anyone would think it’s a good idea to risk tissue degeneration for maybe a 50-50 chance that you’ll get temporary relief from pain. Read what the Mayo clinic has to say about the risks of cortisone injections here.

Check out this article from the New York Times about a study on long-term outcomes of cortisone injections. The research doesn’t sound encouraging–people who got temporary relief are often set further back in their recovery over the long term.

Before you consider cortisone injections, consider alternatives like acupuncture, Rolfing or even massage. All three can give you pain relief while you work with a physical therapist to rebuild strength and flexibility in the affected area. None will cause tissue degeneration–something I think we’d all like to avoid.

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About cathy

Cathy Thomason, MAOM, Dipl.Ac., Dipl. CH, is a graduate of the master’s degree program of the New England School of Acupuncture. She is certified in both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (signified with Dipl.Ac. and Dipl.C.H.). Cathy has completed advanced herbal training with Dr. Tao Xie, and studied advanced needle technique with Dr. Cheng Xiao Ming. She became interested in studying acupuncture while living in South Korea, where acupuncture enjoys equal status with Western medicine.

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