To the misfortune of many people around the world, shoulder pain and shoulder impingement are extremely common and often long lasting.
On the numbers side, a study posted by the National Institutes of Health found that worldwide 7% to 34% of people report shoulder pain problems, and shoulder impingement is the culprit behind many of them. Shoulder pain often becomes chronic, with 54% of patients impacted by shoulder pain for three years or more.
For many, steroid injections are a great solution to shoulder pain from impingement. But are they right for you, and how long do they last? Read on to see if they could help with your pain.
Are you suffering from shoulder pain? If so, come see our team at Steven E. Nolan, MD. Dr. Nolan is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience and has received numerous top-surgeon awards during his career. Here, he discusses shoulder impingement, steroid injections, and how long you can expect the injections to last.
The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that attach the shoulder bone to the upper arm bone, the humerus. Without a rotator cuff, you wouldn’t be able to throw, pick up a heavy box, or grab something that’s above your shoulder height.
The shoulder area fits a lot of different bones, tendons, and muscles into a small area, and the rotator cuff sits right between the humerus and the end of the shoulder bone, which is called the acromion. When the rotator cuff is injured or irritated, it swells up. This swelling can cause the tendon and the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that helps your muscles and tendons glide over your bones, to rub against the acromion. This pinching, or impingement, of the rotator cuff results in shoulder impingement.
Corticosteroid injections, also known as cortisone shots, are used to alleviate pain in many areas of the body. Most corticosteroid injections contain the steroid medication itself and a local anesthetic. The steroid medication treats the inflammation, and the local anesthetic serves as an instant pain reliever. Corticosteroid injections can be delivered to the rotator cuff or the bursa. Dr. Nolan performs imaging when diagnosing your injury to determine where the injection should be placed.
In most cases, it will take about a week to feel the full force of the injection. From then, most people experience considerable pain relief for two to six months. Cortisone shots are safe, but can weaken muscles and tendons over time if used repeatedly. Additionally, cortisone can weaken the immune system. For these reasons, you may be limited in the amount of shots you can receive, typically no more than every three to four months for a specific area.
To learn more about shoulder impingement and corticosteroid injections, request an appointment online or over the phone with Steven E. Nolan, MD, today.