A cortisone shot might help relieve your shoulder pain, but does it make the arthritis in your shoulder better or worse?

My name is Dr. David Geier – orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist, and anti-aging and regenerative medicine expert. I help you feel, look and perform your best, regardless of age or injury.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that’s caused by the wearing down of cartilage and bone within your joints. Cartilage is the tissue that cushions bones when you move, allowing them to glide smoothly against one another without pain or friction. When this cushion becomes damaged, you can experience pain and loss of function in your affected joints.

Osteoarthritis typically develops gradually over time due to wear-and-tear on your joints from daily activities such as lifting objects; however, some people may be more genetically predisposed than others. The most common sites for osteoarthritis are weight-bearing joints such as those found in the hips or knees. However, it can also affect other areas such as fingers or toes. It’s estimated that approximately 32.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis at some point during their lifetime; its prevalence increases sharply after age 40 years old. Osteoarthritis can often affect the shoulder.

Cortisone shots are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis of the shoulder.

It is common for patients with osteoarthritis to be given a cortisone injection in their shoulder as a first step to try to relieve pain and swelling, treating the inflammation or swelling around the shoulder joint.

Cortisone injections into joints are often used as an initial treatment for osteoarthritis because they can provide significant, though temporary, relief of symptoms.

Cortisone also can decrease joint stiffness and improve range of motion after treatment.

Cortisone shots are not a cure for arthritis; however, they may provide some temporary relief from symptoms associated with this condition including pain and stiffness during movement. However this benefit comes at cost: research has shown that repeated injections may actually make things worse by causing more damage than good. In fact one study found that patients who received repeated injections over time actually had higher rates of disability than those who hadn’t gotten any injections at all!

Corticosteroids, including cortisone shots, appear to weaken cartilage and speed up arthritis.

In one study of people with shoulder osteoarthritis (OA), those who received injections of methylprednisolone had worse outcomes after one year than those who didn’t receive any injections at all or were given a placebo injection instead of methylprednisolone.

In another study involving patients with knee OA who were treated with intra-articular injections of triamcinolone acetonide every three months over two years showed significantly greater progression in structural changes compared with patients who received saline injections as placebos.

Cortisone shots have also been shown to weaken the rotator cuff tendons, especially with multiple injections.

The effects of one cortisone shot will last about 3 months before your symptoms return.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain from arthritis, a cortisone shot may be able to provide temporary relief. However, the effects of one cortisone shot will last about 3 months before your symptoms return. But cortisone shots have drawbacks that make them less than ideal treatments.


The bottom line is that cortisone shots are not a cure for arthritis, but they can provide temporary relief. If you have shoulder pain, it’s important to talk to your doctor about all your options, and not just cortisone. There might be newer treatments that can help you overcome the pain, heal the injury and return to what you love to do.

We are looking for 5 patients with shoulder pain who want to get significantly better in the next 30 days, without cortisone shots, physical therapy, or surgery. Click this link and enter the term ‘Interested’ in the description box to learn more.

This post is meant for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.