Athletes and Joint Injections

Joint InjectionsFor both amateur and professional athletes, the time may come when a doctor recommends joint injections as a solution to joint health woes. Before accepting shots as a course of treatment you’ll want to know more about their purpose, benefits and side effects.

Inflammation and Pain

When a joint injury occurs, the tissues begin to swell. The result is stiffness, soreness and general discomfort. In these cases, it may be beneficial to receive an injection of corticosteroids, such as a “cortisone shot.” Conditions like bursitis, tendonitis and arthritis may find relief through cortisone joint injections. The most common reason for this treatment is to help reduce the pain that occurs after overuse or major joint injury. Cortisone isn’t specifically designed for pain relief, but reduction in pain often follows the decrease in inflammation. Some doctors will combine cortisone and anesthetics if the pain is severe enough.


The use of “joint lubricants” can help a problematic joint move more fluidly. The most commonly used joint lubricant is Hyaluronic acid, since it is naturally present in the body. As you age and osteoarthritis creeps in (especially for athletes), the presence of Hyaluronan is diminished so joints don’t operate as smoothly as before. Replacing it through a shot could help improve the motion of the joint.

Complications and Cautions

Though joint injections can provide quick relief, overusing these drugs can ultimately damage body tissue, and create more issues down the road. Younger athletes should be especially cautious about getting cortisone injections. Some tendons, like the Achilles, could rupture if cortisone shots are given in that area. Hyaluronic acid injections effectiveness may not be significant enough for extreme cases, but side effects may be milder than those associated with cortisone injections. In either case, relief may be very temporary. If you have other medical conditions like diabetes, joint injections may be dangerous.

Athletes who suffer joint injuries should know all of their options before joint injections are administered. Your orthopedic professional can help you make the right decision for your situation, so that you are back in the game in no time.

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