Cortisone treatments have historically been one of the most common non-surgical treatments used in orthopaedic surgery. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I share my thoughts on how effective they might – or might not – be for a patient with a meniscus tear in her knee.

Pam asks:

I had an MRI and was told that I have a complex radial tear of the medial meniscus body extending into the posterior horn. I had a cortisone shot 11 days ago that did improve the range of movement of my knee, but I’m still in pain when walking. I have done rest and ice also. Aleve and ibuprofen have produced minimal results of pain relief. I’m going to see an orthopedic surgeon this week to decide next steps.

Have you ever found people to get no relief from a cortisone shot?


Cortisone is a steroid that acts as an anti-inflammatory medication. It can offer pain relief for an inflamed knee due to arthritis or some other problems in the joint. It does little to get rid of the underlying problem.

Meniscus tears are the c-shaped shock absorbers between the bones in the knee. They often cause localized pain and catching when they are torn. For active people with a meniscus tear and little to no arthritis, surgery to trim out the tear can be helpful if non-surgical treatments fail to help.

One of the non-surgical treatments people ask about to try to avoid meniscus surgery is a cortisone injection. In this video, I share my thoughts on whether a cortisone injection might relieve a patient’s pain from a meniscus tear.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – How often can you get cortisone injections?
Ask Dr. Geier – Injections for tennis elbow

Trimming out part of a meniscus tear
The surgeon trims out the inner, torn part of the meniscus (yellow arrow).

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