Cortisone Shots: Short-term Relief but at a Long-Term Price

Cortisone shots seem almost miraculous in their pain-banishing properties for sore tendons and joints. But a major new review article says they actually make tennis elbow worse and have long-term consequences when used for other tendon injuries too like Achilles tendon and sore shoulders.

For tendonitis, especially, cortisone seems to change the short-term biology of pain, but doesn’t heal the underlying structural damage, which is usually due to overuse and not inflammation.

Patients who take cortisone tend to have higher rates of relapse and also are less likely to return to their baseline than patients who do nothing or take physical therapy, according to the review article in the Lancet, a prominent British medical journal. The findings were reported in the New York Times.

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