Cortisone injections are extremely safe, but they do still have potential problems. If you are concerned about having a cortisone shot, talk with your doctor. While cortisone is a powerful treatment for many orthopedic conditions, there are usually other options that can also be tried. Many doctors will offer an injection as they are quick, easy, and most often effective. However, your doctor should also be able to offer other treatments for inflammation that may also be effective for those that cannot have, or don't want, a cortisone injection.
How often cortisone injections are given varies based on the reason for the injection. This is determined on a case-by-case basis by the health care practitioner. If a single cortisone injection is curative, then further injections are unnecessary. Sometimes, a series of injections might be necessary; for example, cortisone injections for a trigger finger may be given every three weeks, to a maximum of three times in one affected finger. In other instances, such as knee osteoarthritis, a second cortisone injection may be given approximately three months after the first injection, but the injections are not generally continued on a regular basis.
Oral steroids can interrupt bouts of cluster headache (CH) attacks, but recurrence is frequent and may lead to steroid-dependency. Suboccipital steroid injection may be an effective 'single shot' alternative, but no placebo-controlled trial is available. The aim of our study was to assess in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial the preventative effect on CH attacks of an ipsilateral steroid injection in the region of the greater occipital nerve. Sixteen episodic (ECH) and seven chronic (CCH) CH outpatients were included. ECH patients were in a new bout since no more than 1 week. After a one-week run-in period, patients were allocated by randomization to the placebo or verum arms and received on the side of attacks a suboccipital injection of a mixture of long- and rapid-acting betamethasone (n=13; Verum-group) or physiological saline (n=10; Plac-group). Acute treatment was allowed at any time, additional preventative therapy if attacks persisted after 1 week. Three investigators performed the injections, while four others, blinded to group allocation, followed the patients. Follow-up visits were after 1 and 4 weeks, whereafter patients were followed routinely. Eleven Verum-group patients (3 CCH) (85%) became attack-free in the first week after the injection compared to none in the Plac-group (P=). Among them eight remained attack-free for 4 weeks (P=). Remission lasted between 4 and 26 months in five patients. A single suboccipital steroid injection completely suppresses attacks in more than 80% of CH patients. This effect is maintained for at least 4 weeks in the majority of them.