Are Cortisone Shots Worth It?
Cortisone injections are a very common way of helping people deal with pain. They help deal with pain and inflammation in the body. A lot of people I know have had them, actually.
My rheumatologist suggested that I get cortisone shots in both of my SI joints after I explained that I was still having a lot of pain and flare-ups while on biologics. I’m allergic to ibuprofen, so he suggested this. I was curious to see if it would help my pain, so I agreed.
The day of the shots
My first shot was supposed to be on August 8th at 7:45 am. My mom and I headed to the hospital that morning, and I won't lie, I was pretty nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect from the procedure.
I waited until about 8:30 am before I finally got in. The whole time I was extremely nervous and bounced my leg up and down to try and calm myself.
Before the procedure
The nurse finally called my name, and I went into the room. She explained to me in full detail what would happen and asked me a few standard questions. I was then told that the reason they don’t do both sides of the SI joint at once is because if they do that, I would have a harder time knowing which side worked, if any.
She had me sit up on the table, and we waited for the doctor to come in. When he finally did, he looked at my x-rays and decided that he would change the plan, and actually put the injection on both sides that day.
After having it all explained previously, I was kind of confused and worried about how the side effects would affect me.
The nurse and doctor prepped my lower back and then set up the x-ray to administer the shots. The doctor numbed the area as well. I was very nervous.
The doctor would tell me exactly what he was doing, which helped a little. He would say “Okay, this will hurt, this is the worst part, breathe, okay done.” I get poked with needles a lot, and this was the most discomfort I had ever had with a needle.
I don’t usually make a peep when getting blood work, shots, etc., and I actually let out sounds of discomfort during the procedure. While the area was numb, I could still feel the pressure, and that was almost worse to me in the moment.
After the doctor left the room, the nurse explained to me the aftercare I should do. I wasn’t able to bathe for 24 hours or have any heat on the injection site and I was to use ice when I needed it, and painkillers as needed.
I got off the table and walked back out into the hallway. I didn’t realize how dizzy and faint I felt. I’m not really great with needles usually. I had to get my mom to help me change back into my clothes, and we asked a hospital worker if I could have apple juice to help with the dizziness. I sat for a while to get my strength back up.
Walking around after the injections was extremely painful. I came home and laid in bed with an ice pack for a few hours. I couldn’t have predicted it would hurt so bad. That night, the pain was so bad I was crying. I don’t think it would have been as bad if I had only gotten one shot like I was supposed to.
So do cortisone shots help with ankylosing spondylitis pain?
Personally, I haven’t noticed much of a difference from getting the shots. I’m still getting flares and my SI joints still hurt daily. For the amount of discomfort I was in, I don’t think I would do it again, at least not anytime soon.
What are your experiences with cortisone shots? Did they help you with your pain?
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?