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Cortisone Shots Side Effects

author image Leah DiPlacido, Ph.D.
Leah DiPlacido, a medical writer with more than nine years of biomedical writing experience, received her doctorate in immunology from Yale University. Her work is published in "Journal of Immunology," "Arthritis and Rheumatism" and "Journal of Experimental Medicine." She writes about disease for doctors, scientists and the general public.
Cortisone Shots Side Effects
Cortisone shots deliver the medication directly to the source of inflammation by syringe.

Cortisone is in a class of anti-inflammatory drugs called steroids. The New York Langone Medical Center reports that cortisone shorts are effective in reducing pain and inflammation. According to, cortisone inhibits the release of substances that cause inflammation in the body, providing pain relief. also reports that cortisone is used to treat multiple different conditions, including breathing diseases, lupus, skin disorders and arthritis. However, there are possible side effects associated with cortisone shots.

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Localized Side Effects

The Mayo Clinic reports that possible mild side effects of cortisone may affect the injection site of the medication. These localized side effects include thinning or lightening of the skin immediately surrounding the injection site, nerve damage, joint infection, temporary spike of pain in area injected, and weakening, damage or rupture of the tendon. The NYU Langone Medical Center reports that injection is generally not done into the tendon of a joint, because that increases the risk of damaged, weakening or rupture of the tendon. The Mayo Clinic also advises that cortisone may cause osteoporosis (bone weakening) or osteonecrosis (bone death) in bone near the injection site.

Mild Systemic Side Effects

Possible systemic side effects could bring side effects that affect the body as a whole. According to, these include changes in mood, sleep disturbances, wounds that heal slowly, sweating, headache, lightheadedness, nausea and stomach cramps. also reports that cortisone shots can cause "changes in shape or location of body fat (especially in the arms, legs, face, neck, breasts and waist)."

Severe Systemc Side Effects reports these possible severe systemic side effects associated with cortisone shots: disturbances of the digestive system, such as blood in the stool or coughing up blood; pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), which causes intense pain in the upper stomach; psychological disturbances, such as depression, weird thoughts and/or behavior, or seizures; and severely high blood pressure, which may cause anxiety, shallow breathing, irregular heartbeat and a severe headache. advises seeking immediate medical attention for these symptoms.

Allergic Reaction

Allergies occur when the body's immune system responds inappropriately to medications or other substances, such as pollen or dust. When the body has an allergic reaction to medication that's injected, such as cortisone shots, the results can be very severe. reports that some of these side effects include difficulty breathing, hives, or swelling of the face, tongue, throat or lips. The allergic reaction may cause a serious health risk. advises seeking medical attention if signs of an allergy appear.

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