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Should I Get A Cortisone Shot in My Foot? [Plantar Fasciitis or Heel Pain]Do you need a cortisone shot for foot pain? We go over the pros & cons of a cortisone shot for plantar fasciitis, heel pain & MORE!
Table of Contents
What are the pros and cons of a cortisone shot in the foot?
The pros of a cortisone shot in the foot:
- A cortisone shot can provide anti-inflammatory effects and pain relief.
- Cortisone is a type of steroid, which is actually a natural hormone in your body.
- Your body naturally can utilize cortisone to reduce swelling, stiffness, and pain in the body.
- On average we noticed patient’s develop improving symptoms over a couple days and likely even a couple weeks.
- For some people is only a few days.
- We usually tell people to expect an initial period of soreness for about the first 24-48 hours, due to the puncture site with the needle.
- Overall results can vary for cortisone injections for the heel, the plantar fascia, the ankle or the toes.
- On average we see pain relief for about 3-6 months compared to the initial pain that came in.
- A cortisone shot is not guaranteed to always help, but in most cases there is low risk and significant improvement.
- When combined with proper diagnosis, proper treatment such as orthotics good shoes stretches and physical therapy they can be very effective.
- Cortisone shots in the foot can make significant improvements regarding your foot, heel, plantar fascia and ankle pain.
What are the cons of a cortisone shot in the foot:
- The biggest con of a cortisone shot is that it does not actually get to the root cause of why this foot injury may have happened in the first place.
- This is the biggest obstacle that we try to get patients to understand.
- For example, cortisone will not stop the overactivity which caused their plantar fasciitis.
- It will not cure arthritis that caused your ankle pain. It will not stop arthritis from causing your foot pain.
- The goal of the cortisone shot is to reduce or eliminate symptoms of these foot and ankle problems over a period of time.
- This means decreasing the swelling and inflammatory cells in the area.
- It does not stop the cause of why the inflammatory cells were there in the first place.
Benefits of a cortisone shot in the foot:
Do Cortisone Shots Hurt?
Cortisone shouts vary in the amount of pain and/or discomfort they cause. Many factors can affect the injection pain, such as the needle’s size and gauge and the location of the injection.
Unfortunately, certain cortisone shots will cause pain no matter the precautions. Cortisone shots into the foot sole and hand palm are usually painful. In general, the shots are painful when the cortisone is delivered to a small area.
The amount of pain is also determined by the length and width of the needle. Besides, larger needles are more painful than smaller ones.
Some patients ask their doctors for smaller needles to decrease the pain. Yet, the choice is determined by the location of the injection. For example, when the cortisone shot is injected into the knee, it needs to be inserted deep enough to penetrate the connective tissue of the knee.
In addition, the thickness or viscosity of the cortisone may need a gauge needle compared to the smaller needles used for subcutaneous injections.
Tips to reduce injection pain:
If you are worried about the injection site pain, your doctor may recommend some techniques to relieve the pain, such as:
A smaller needle, if possible:
- In some cases, the smaller needle can provide the same effects as the larger one. However, in other cases, it is not possible to go with the smallest available needle due to the thickness of the skin or the viscosity of the injection substance.
Ask for a numbing agent:
- Cold sprays and topical anesthesia can relieve the injection site pain by reducing the injection sensation and numbing the skin area.
Take your time:
- It can be harrowing if you want to get your cortisone shot over with fast. A slower injection with a slower needle generally creates much less pain. Take your time and let your doctor talk you through the procedure to feel less frightened.
- Try to relax and take deep breaths. The procedure takes only a few minutes.
Get a good night of sleep:
It is generally believed that with less stress and more sleep going into your appointment, that it will be a less painful experience.
This 2019 study and review article states that surgery patients who are sleeping well generally experience much less pain.
How Often Can You Get a Cortisone Shot?
Generally speaking, since there are many risks associated with cortisone shots, it is recommended to receive only one cortisone injection every 12 weeks and no more than 3 to 4 shots each year in a joint, and no more than 6 per year for any other body part.
However, every person is different. Therefore, your doctor may recommend a different number of cortisone shots depending on many factors, including your level of pain tolerance and overall health.
What If Cortisone Shot Doesn’t Work?
If the first cortisone shot does not work for your condition, your doctor may recommend a second shot 6 to 8 weeks after the first one. However, if the second shot does provide pain relief, it is not recommended to try another one. Cortisone has many side effects on the ability to heal cartilages, tendons, and ligaments.
Here are some essential facts you should be aware of about cortisone.
- It can reduce inflammations. However, it does not treat the underlying cause.
- The cortisone shot results are temporary and only last for 6 to 8 weeks.
- Cortisone inhibits the ability to heal.
- Other options can relieve and treat your condition.
Cortisone Shot for Plantar Fasciitis:
Cortisone injections are highly recommended for severe and chronic cases of plantar fasciitis. It is a potent anti-inflammatory. Therefore, it can decrease the level of pain significantly for about 3 to 4 months.
Studies show how effective cortisone shots are in relieving plantar fasciitis pain. A 36-month clinical study found that corticosteroid injections are way more effective than platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP), prolotherapy, and extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT). On the other hand, the 36-month follow-up showed that cortisone injections are no longer effective in managing the condition.
If conservative treatments failed to relieve your plantar fasciitis pain after 6 to 9 months, cortisone shots might be the best option to relieve your pain, especially if you do not have time or cannot afford surgery.
Keep in mind that cortisone injections will not treat your condition. They are just a pain management method. In other words, they will relieve your pain and reduce inflammation, but they will not repair the damaged arch.
If you want to repair the damaged arch, you can wear orthotic inserts for a while to re-cushion your heel and realign your arch. Also, physical therapy can help to stretch and strengthen your arch and make it more flexible.
If all the previous options failed, surgery could be the solution. The most common surgical procedure for plantar fasciitis is fasciotomy, which depends on releasing the plantar fascia to lower the tension in the foot muscles.
How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Take to Work? (How Long for Cortisone Shot to Work?)
It is important to know how long a cortisone shot takes to work in case you have an upcoming event such as a sports game. Also, it is important to choose the best time to have your cortisone injection because it can make a difference in its success or failure.
In general, a cortisone injection takes about 4 to 5 days to work. However, it is recommended to take the shot a week earlier if you have an event to ensure that your pain is relieved completely.
Notice that the cortisone shot makes the pain worse in the first few days. Therefore, you have to rest after getting the shot for a few days to prevent the pain from getting worse.
What Does a Cortisone Shot Do?
In general, cortisone is a steroid medication that helps inhibit inflammations in the body and decrease swelling. It works by preventing the release of the inflammation-causing molecules, preventing the body from having an immune response.
The purposes for taking a cortisone shot differ depending on the condition. For example, it can be taken as an orthopedic treatment. In this case, it is injected directly into the inflammation site.
It is used to relieve pain. However, it is not a pain medication. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory that prevents collagen production by inhibiting the collagen-producing cells in the inflammation site, such as tendons and joints, which leads to inhibiting the inflammation and gradually reducing the pain.
Also, it is important to remember that cortisone does not cure your condition or the underlying problem causing it.
Cortisone works once it is injected. However, the pain relief effects vary from a patient to another. In other words, some patients feel immediate relief while other patients feel better over a few days or weeks.
If the condition is severe or chronic and ongoing when you get the shot, the effects may take longer and be less strong than expected.
Allergic Reaction to Cortisone Shot:
Before getting the cortisone shot, you must inform your doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction after an injection. It is infrequent to react to the cortisone shot because it is a synthetic version of cortisol, a steroid produced naturally in your body. Also, allergic reactions can develop from the local anesthesia added to the injection, but it is uncommon.
However, if you experienced any of the following symptoms, you have to call your doctor and/or go to the nearest emergency room.
- Skin Rash.
- Itching or Hives.
- Swelling of the Face, Lips, or Tongue.
Cortisone Shot and COVID Vaccine:
According to the timing of the vaccination, there are two main concerns.
- Cortisone Injections Before Getting the COVID Vaccine:
If you are about to get the COVID vaccine, you will be informed about when you will receive it. According to the available research, you should wait about 4 weeks after getting a cortisone shot before getting your COVID vaccine. Your doctor will determine the exact amount of time between the two shots depending on the type of steroid and the dose you receive.
- Cortisone Injections After Getting the COVID Vaccine:
After receiving the vaccine, the immune system must function properly to produce antibodies and other immunity cellular components to reduce the risk of getting infected with the Coronavirus.
According to the manufacturers, the following is recommended:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine:
Cortisone injections will not interfere with the expected immunogenicity after 28 days of the first COVID vaccine dose or 7 days after the second dose. It is recommended to continue corticosteroid injections after this period.
- Moderna COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine:
It is recommended to continue corticosteroid injections at around day 14 or 42 after the second dose.
The vaccination will work, but you may have a lesser response than others. Therefore, it is recommended to wait about 2 weeks after receiving the second mRNA vaccination dose before receiving your cortisone shot. Also, it is not clear yet if any booster shots or routine antibody monitoring are recommended.
Cortisone Shot Cost (How Much Does a Cortisone Shot Cost?) (How Much Do Cortisone Shots Cost?)
Generally, a basic, single cortisone shot price ranges from $25 up to $100. Some clinics offer discounts, especially on the first shot and if the problem will be treated in series of injections as part of your pain management treatment.
In addition, the costs may vary according to the size of the injection. For example, a cortisone shot in the knee costs $300 to $900, an elbow shot costs $200 to $250, and a shoulder shot usually costs about $170.
The price of the shots does not include the doctor’s visits.
Generally, injections for the foot are in the $75 range or more if further treatment is considered.
This is the price for:
Cortisone shots are injected at certain points in the body, depending on the issue. The cost may vary according to the problem. For example:
- Cystic Acne – The cost is $25 to $100 per injection
Cortisone shots are the best and most effective way to make active acne lesions disappear. It is the best option if you have an important event and want to look perfect fast. The cortisone is injected directly into the pimples. After a while, they will appear smaller, and the inflammation will disappear.
- Trigger Point/Tendon Injections – The Average Cost is $868
If you experience pain in a certain body part originating from another body part with trigger points. Trigger points are sensitive areas of the body. Once irritated or stimulated, they cause effects in other areas, especially tender areas in muscles that cause musculoskeletal pain when overstimulated.
When cortisone is injected into the trigger points, it makes them more relaxed or inactive, relieving the pain in the other body part.
- Epidural Steroid Injection – The National average cost is $2,068
If you suffer from spinal pain due to a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease, an epidural steroid injection is one of the best non-surgical pain management treatments. It is usually prescribed so that the patient can participate in physical therapy.
How Does a Cortisone Shot Work?
Cortisone works by inhibiting or preventing the release of the molecules, causing inflammations and subsequently swelling, which leads to decreasing swelling and inflammation in the body. These molecules trigger the immune system to respond, which leads to inflammations and swellings. When the release of the inflammatory molecules stops, the immune system will not react from the beginning.
Can You Get Two Cortisone Shots at the Same Time?
Yes, it is possible to have two cortisone shots at the same time. However, they must be injected into different parts of the body.
Your doctor will adjust the doses of the two shots to limit the risks and make the best out of the two doses. In other doses, lower doses are injected into each body part.
However, there are more risks associated with getting more than one cortisone shot at the same time, including:
- Nerve damage.
- Cartilage damage.
- Temporary increase in blood sugar levels.
- Tendon weakness.
- Tendon rupture.
- A temporary flare of pain and inflammations, especially in joints.
- Osteoporosis, especially with multiple injections at the same place.
- Temporary redness, hotness, or flushing of the face.
Your doctor will inform you about your specific risks.
What Are the Side Effects of Cortisone Shots?
The side effects of cortisone shots can be divided into:
- Short-Term Side Effects: They are rare but include:
- Shrinkage and fading away of the skin color at the site of injection.
- Bleeding when a blood vessel is broken in the muscle or skin.
- Soreness at the site of injection.
- Post-injection flare, which means aggravating the inflammation at the injection site as a reaction to the cortisone.
- Tendon weakness.
- Tendon ruptures.
- Cortisone can elevate blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
- Cortisone makes it harder to recover from infections.
- It is not recommended to get a cortisone shot if you have blood clotting problems.
- Long-Term Side Effects: They depend on the frequency and dose of the cortisone treatment. Higher doses and frequent shots can cause the following side effects:
- Skin thinning.
- Weight gain.
- Increasing blood pressure.
- Puffiness of the face.
- Bone problems such as osteoporosis.
- Cataract formation.
- Avascular necrosis: it is an extremely rare but serious condition that may happen to the bones of large joints.
How Long After Cortisone Shot Can I Drink Alcohol?
There is no problem with drinking alcohol after getting a cortisone shot. Therefore, you can drink alcohol before and/or after the injection.
Cortisone Shot Needle:
A 1.5 inch, 21-gauge needle is usually used to inject cortisone in large joints such as the shoulder and knee joint, while 0.5 inch, 23- or 25-gauge needles are usually used for smaller joints.
Doctors argue whether it is better to give the patient a separate local anesthetic injection before the cortisone shot or give both the local anesthesia and cortisone in a single shot. Some doctors prefer to give the patient 1 shot of the corticosteroid preparation mixed with a local anesthetic since 1 needle is usually less painful than 2.
On the other hand, the cortisone material is thick, and a larger gauge is usually required. Therefore, 2 needles are usually more tolerated than one.
In the 2-needle technique, your doctor will anesthetize the area first using a small, 25-gauge needle, wait for about 5 minutes until the anesthesia works, and then a larger-bore needle (21-22 gauge) is used for the cortisone shot.
It is recommended to ask your doctor if a smaller needle is possible before the procedure.
How Long After a Cortisone Shot Can I Run?
Generally, patients should not run or do heavy exercise for 2 weeks after receiving a long-acting cortisone shot. After 10 days to 2 weeks, they can start performing gentle range-of-motion exercises as tolerated to stay active.
What Are Cortisone Shots Used For?
Cortisone shots are usually used to relieve orthopedic problems. In other words, it can reduce swelling and inflammations in bone and muscle problems such as arthritis, tendonitis, or bursitis.
However, cortisone is not a painkiller. It has anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it can reduce inflammations and swellings, which subsequently reduces the pain.
The most common indications for cortisone injections include the following inflammatory conditions:
- Muscle trigger points
- Entrapments syndromes such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
What to Expect after Cortisone Shot in Foot?
A cortisone shot in the foot reduces inflammation and swelling of all the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) within the foot joint.
Reduction of inflammation leads to decreasing pain. Since cortisone is a potent anti-inflammatory, your foot pain will be relieved immediately after the injection or within 48 hours. It depends on many factors, including age, the severity of pain, and the underlying cause.
Cortisone shots in the foot are safe, and the side effects are rare.
Alternatives to Cortisone Shots:
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is the best alternative to cortisone shots. PRP depends on injecting a concentrated blood platelets solution in the damaged area. This solution contains proteins and growth factors that promote healing.
It is better than cortisone because:
- Complications are extremely infrequent since it depends on injecting the patient’s blood.
- It relieves pain while promoting healing of the damaged tissue because it contains bioactive proteins.
- Patients are less likely to need surgical intervention in the long run.
However, PRP is usually more expensive than cortisone shots and takes longer to relieve pain and inflammation.
Another alternative for cortisone shots is prolotherapy. Prolotherapy depends on injecting regenerative solutions such as dextrose, antioxidants, and/or amino acids with short-acting anesthetics such as lidocaine or procaine into the damaged area to stimulate the healing process and enhance the collagen production within the damaged area.
It is better than cortisone shots because:
- It is suitable for acute injuries to healthy tissues that take a longer time to heal.
- It is safer, more natural, and effective than surgeries and cortisone shots.
- It uses the healing ability of the body to relieve both acute and chronic pain, make the damaged tissues stronger, and restore the function of the joints.
Prolotherapy is highly recommended in the following conditions:
- Minor ACL/MCL/LCL tears/sprains.
- Minor Meniscus injuries
- Frozen shoulder
- Adhesive capsulitis
It is recommended to try 1-2 prolotherapy sessions before PRP or cortisone shots. Also, patients with a history of chronic diseases or inflammations should consider prolotherapy before PRP injections to calm the joint.
Pros and Cons of Cortisone Shot for Plantar Fasciitis:
In Plantar Fasciitis cases, the cortisone is injected into the most painful area of your plantar fascia.
- Short-term pain relief of a few months.
- Keeping the inflammation down for even longer than that.
Repeated cortisone injections into the plantar fascia may lead to:
- Fat Atrophy.
- Skin Thinning.
- Fascia Rupture.
Cortisone Shot in Ankle:
A cortisone shot reduces stiffness, swelling, and pain in your ankle. It is highly recommended for patients with chronic pain who tried prolonged rest, physical therapy, or painkillers but did not manage their pain.
It is generally safe and has a low risk of side effects. However, repeated cortisone shots, especially with larger doses, can lead to serious side effects such as:
- Making arthritis worse.
- Damaging the joint and/or cartilage over time.
- Weakening the bones and tendons.
If you want to avoid these side effects, you should stick to the optimal dose of steroid injections 4 times per year.
The ankle cortisone shot usually takes a few days before work. The time varies from a person to another. For example, some patients report that they experience immediate relief, while others report that their symptoms started getting better after a few days.
Besides, the length of pain relief caused by cortisone can also vary depending on many factors, such as the affected joint and the patient’s overall health.
Generally, cortisone pain relief can last for 6 to 12 weeks. If the cortisone shot is used with other rehabilitation treatments such as physical therapy, the length of effectiveness can be longer or even curative.
Ankle injections are usually painful. You may experience some pressure and discomfort during the procedure, but it is usually not too painful. However, the pain can be avoided with the help of your doctor.
In a nutshell, cortisone shots are one of the most common ankle injections. They are injected into the ankle joint to relieve ankle pain and inflammation.
Cortisone Shot in Heel:
A cortisone shot in the heel is one of the best options to relieve the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis, especially in chronic and severe pain cases. As a powerful anti-inflammatory, it can relieve your pain for about 3 months.
A 36-month clinical study showed that cortisone injections are more effective than extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), prolotherapy, and platelet-rich plasma therapy. However, the cortisone injection lost its effectiveness completely after 36 months.
If your heel pain is not responding to any treatments after 6 to 9 months, it is time to try cortisone shots to manage your pain.
Keep in mind that cortisone shots are just a method to manage your pain and will not cure your condition.
In other words, the cortisone will lower the level of pain and inflammation, but it will not repair your damaged arch.
If you want to cure your heel and repair your damaged plantar fascia, you should wear orthotic inserts to re-cushion your heel and realign your arch. Besides, it would be best to do stretch exercises to strengthen your plantar fascia and foot muscles and improve your arch’s flexibility. Also, rest and put ice on your feet as needed.
Walk-in Clinic Cortisone Shot:
At a cortisone shot clinic, the visit usually starts with taking a complete medical history and a full physical examination. Tests such as x-rays may be taken if needed.
If the cortisone shot is recommended, your doctor will explain everything; the procedure, the benefits, and the risks. If you have any questions before or after the procedure, they will answer them too.
Once you are 100% ready for the injection, your doctor will thoroughly clean the injection site area and its surroundings.
A local anesthetic may be applied before the injection to numb the area. When the needle is inserted into the injection area and the cortisone is released, the patient may feel pressure.
The injection usually includes an anesthetic, which immediately relieves pain, and the cortisone, which will start working in a few days.
Cortisone Shot for Plantar Fasciitis Didn’t Work:
If the cortisone shot does not work for your plantar fasciitis, many other options may relieve your pain and even cure your condition.
Ultrasound therapy usually works by stimulating cells and tissues via vibration. The procedure is simple, painless, and less expensive than other procedures and treatments.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT):
ESWT is a less invasive therapy than injection therapy or other procedures. However, many studies say that it is more effective in treating stubborn cases of plantar fasciitis than other methods.
We proudly offer shockwave therapy at our clinic for our patients.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections:
After centrifuging your platelet cells, they are injected into the damaged plantar fascia. It is more expensive than cortisone shots, yet it is popular among athletes.
Radiation therapy can be effective in treating some stubborn plantar fasciitis cases. It is cheap, simple, and non-invasive. Also, it has minimal side effects and low risks. It is like getting an x-ray.
Intracorporeal pneumatic shock therapy (IPST):
IPST applied shock waves to heel spurs. It is similar to ESWT but less painful, less expensive, and requires local anesthesia.
We proudly offer shockwave therapy for our patients, we are big fans of the results!
Cold Laser Therapy:
Cold laser therapy or MLS laser therapy has been shown to be rather effective over the past few years and has shown excellent results. This is now considered a strong option for stubborn plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis.
Surgery is the last resort because it is expensive and has many complications. It is recommended only when other treatments fail.
Most plantar fasciitis surgeries have high success rates. However, they require a lot of time off your feet, high expenses, and of course, pain.
In our clinic, we rarely prescribed cortisone injections on their own. It is part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes proper diagnosis, proper imaging, physical therapy, custom orthotics, activity changes, and the best possible shoes.
What are the risks of a cortisone shot:
- Studies show that a single cortisone shot can be fairly safe.
There are some minor side effects, but they are not overly significant.
- In our experience, after giving thousands of cortisone shots, it is rare to remember how many times someone has even had a minor problem.
- In our opinion that the risks are very minimal, and we very rarely ever see someone have a problem.
- Even if they have a problem, they are considered to be more minor and quickly go away over the next few days.
What if I get too many cortisone shots?
1 people get a large number of cortisone shots over a short period of time. Then problems can start to happen.
Personally, we have never really gotten to this point in her personally experienced these problems, but it is reported that these problems can happen if there are too many injections.
- Weakening or potentially a rupture of a tendon.
- Scar tissue developing at the site of injections.
- Fat pad atrophy in the site of the injection.
- Thinning or deterioration in the bones.
- Thinning and deterioration in the skin.
- A possible infection in the injection site.
- A possible injection site joint infection.
What is cortisone shot in the foot alternatives?
- At Prime foot and ankle specialists, we do offer numerous alternative options to cortisone injections.
- In our opinion, cortisone shots are relatively safe and can provide excellent results when combined with part of a comprehensive treatment plan, as mentioned above.
We are proud to offer shockwave therapy for foot & ankle conditions in our Michigan clinics!
- We believe strongly and shockwave therapy which we have had excellent results with.
- We also believe shockwave therapy can be extremely effective for disorders such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, scar tissue in the foot, plantar fibroma, Achilles tendinosis, and other ligament or muscle problems.
- Shockwave therapy has very few side effects and is relatively painless when compared to a cortisone injection.
- Shockwave therapy also has the benefit of not penetrating the skin.
The downsides of shockwave therapy are that it is not always covered by insurance and can require repeated treatments.
- We have affordable treatment plans for shockwave therapy that we can provide for you.
- Make sure to ask about shockwave therapy and laser therapy as an option.
Cold Laser Therapy:
- We also provide laser therapy which is a very effective treatment process.
- Laser therapy can help accelerate the natural healing progress and is a more advanced and overall effective procedure.
- The benefits of laser therapy are that it can be used more often, is painless, and is less likely to have any known side effects.
- The downside of laser therapy is that it can require numerous sessions, potentially between 5-10 sessions over 2-4 weeks. To get the best effectiveness.