By Alan Ostrowsky
The disadvantages of cortisone injections are many. The advantages are nil.
Cortisone injections are just a reflection of modern day thinking. A medical invention that in 99 per cent of the time the inventor is too smart for his and our own good.
Short-term complications can include shrinkage (atrophy) and lightening of the colour (depigmentation) of the skin at the injection site, entry of bacterial infection into the body, local bleeding from broken blood vessels in the skin or muscle, soreness at the injection site, and aggravation of inflammation in the area injected due to a poor reaction to the corticosteroid medication. Increased pain after the injection is usually due to a postinjection flare up. The integrity of tendons can deteriorate by corticosteroid injections in or near tendons. As a result tendon ruptures have been reported. Facial flushing may occur in up to 40% of cases but usually only lasts briefly. Sweating and insomnia may also occur.
Diabetes need to be careful as cortisone injections can elevate the blood sugar. In people with underlying infections, cortisone injections can suppress the body’s ability to fight the infection and hence worsen the infection. It can mask the infection by suppressing the symptoms and signs of inflammation. Cortisone injections are highly contentious when used in people with a bleeding disorder.
Long-term risks of corticosteroid injections depend on the dose and frequency of the injections and the general health status of the individual. As the health of the individual determines how his/her body copes with this poison. The producing pharmaceutical companies state “with higher doses and frequent administration, potential side effects include thinning of the skin, easy bruising, weight gain, puffiness of the face, elevation of blood pressure, cataract formation, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), and a rare but serious damage to the bones of the large joints (avascular necrosis) “. Please note avascular necrosis of large joints means death of that joint.
Osteoporosis can occur with cortisone use because this hormone can inhibit the body’s correct production of vitamin D, which then limits the absorption of calcium from food. Since calcium is an essential part of bone, its diminished level affects bone growth and replacement.
The body’s production of prostaglandin and leukotriene can also be curtailed by excess cortisone, which adversely affects your cartilage.
Professional sportspersons and athletes are probably one of the largest groups of users/abusers of this harmful pharmaceutical substance. I could produce a long list of sports and athletic activities that continually participate in this drug abuse on mass.
In Australia our most popular national sport is Australian Rules football. For our overseas readers Aussie Rules football is a combination of Rugby, Basketball and Wrestling with very little physical uniform protection. It is quite spectacular but so many of the retired athletes suffer in later life.
This extremely competitive philosophy of winning at all costs is of course no different to the professional football in Europe or Gridiron in the US or Rugby in New Zealand. Observers of these sports will notice how an injured athlete stumbles off the playing field into the medical rooms. Only to miraculously return, full of fire the following week. When any sports scientist or physiotherapist would tell us, that correct rest and rehabilitation over a number of weeks was the normal practice.
Kept quiet from the mainstream media in Australia, is the news that a group of retired elite footballers from the Carlton Football Club, are presently filing a huge lawsuit claim against the club. Their legal claim is that medical staff, under the direction of the club administered various pain relieving injections and tablets to enable participation. These men are suing the club due to their chronic physical and emotional suffering, from these various physical disabilities. They claim that the club reneged from their duty of care to the players.
The type of chronic injuries are not related to concussion or head impact but standard hip, back, and knee injuries. These are common sporting injuries.
These types of injuries become more of a chronic problem when the normal body healing mechanisms are not allowed to take place. And when it comes to administering of artificial cortisone, the body becomes tricked into feeling that it is healed. This creates a far poorer quality of health for the previously injured body part. Leaving the body part in an unfinished state of healing. This then increases the likelihood of a new injury. This also results in the body part having a far less tolerance to normal wear and tear of general living over the years.
So other than urgent lifesaving circumstances, cortisone is a bad idea. It is a perfect example of modern day people needing a quick fix. Healing takes time. And like any quick fix – the slow long term effects are usually disastrous.