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Avatar universal

Cortisone injection side effects?

I apologize that this will be kinda long - want to give as much info as I can so everyone can hopefully give me some advice/input.

First, a little bit of background - I suffer from several chronic pain issues, including fibromyalgia, lupus, severe osteoarthritis.  For the past month or so I've been having a major issue with my right hip and lower back (mostly the hip) - it began with pain in the groin/inside hip area and has now totally encompassed the entire hip and does also affect the lower back (although not all the time).  the best way I can describe the pain is like a horrible, horrible toothache that does not go away. it also radiates down my leg into my knee and sometimes all the way down my leg with some shooting/burning pains into my foot.  I first went to my PCP about this (she handles all my health issues, including my pain management) and she gave me dilaudid and flexeril (to replace my normal lorcet plus) and immediately made me an urgen appt with an orthopedic doc.  She also sent me that day for xrays, which I took with me to the ortho appt (the ortho was actually one of their PA's, but that's fine with me).  Anyway, the ortho said I did have ddd, at least one bulgin disc with pinched/trapped nerve/s.  She put me on a 6 day tapering course of medrol-dose pack and told me to call her the following week and let me know how I was doing - if I wasn't at least 50% improved she would more than likely wnat to get an MRI.  I did not have much, if any at all, improvement, so I called her that following week and told her how I was feeling.  They scheduled me for an MRI - I made it another point to tell them that majority of my pain was in my hip, so to be sure that they also looked at the hip durign the MRI.  The nurse that was scheduling it said she would mention it to the PA.  Unfortunately, the day before the MRI was scheduled for, I ended up having to put my car in the shop and was without any transportation for about a week, so I had to reschedule it (and my follow-up appt with the ortho).  I finally had the MRI this past Wed (8/4) -- even though I had made sure to tell the ortho that majority of my pain was in my hip, she STILL only requested the MRI to be done of my lumbar spine - her feeling was that the pain was actually comign from my back. i didn't balk at it - figured she knew what she was talking about.  Had the MRI - no problems with that except of course I was hurting more afterward simply from laying on that horribly hard table for so long!  Friday (8/6) was my follow-up with the ortho -- MRI findings did show bulging at L3, L4, L5 with some nerve impingement, however, it was not severe impingement.  The radiologist also stated there was a tear at L3,L4 -- anyone know what that means - the PA didn't seem to and kind of skipped over it when I asked her what that meant.

Now, of course, the PA has finally decided to listen to me when I tell her that the majority of my pain is in my hip and not all in my back - yes the back does act up, but I think at least part of that is because of me adjusting my positions, gait, etc, to accomodate the hip pain.  Yesterday when I was there, she gave me a cortisone injection to see if it would help - I do have a LOT of pinpoint pain when she pressed on certain areas so she though possibly a bursitits?  Again, she told me that if I didn't see vast improvement by the beginning of next week, to call the office and she would want me to see their hip specialist - either before getting an MRI of the hip or possibly getting the hip MRI first and then seeing him (why the heck she didn't listen to me before and do the hip at the same time as the other I'll never know!)

The injection was VERY painful - I've had cortisone injections before in my shoulder (have since had that shoulder replaced) and also in both knees at different times in my life, so I'm not a stranger to them.  This one was absolutely HORRIBLE though.  i dont' know if it was simply because the area she injected was already so painful or if something wasn't right.  She did tell me that I could experience some MILD increase in pain last night as a result of the injection and to use ice packs for the next couple of days (I had been switching between heat and ice before this but she said to stick with the ice only for a few days).  Well, I'll tell you - what I experienced last night and even this morning is in no way MILD increase in pain - I am totally and completely miserable!!  About three hours after the injection, I also began sweating a LOT (yes it's hot here in Va, but I was in the a/c), had some dizziness and nausea.  I do sometimes get some nausea when my pain levels are high, but not usually dizziness or sweating.

this morning, after a horrible night of trying to sleep, I'm no longer dizzy, but my stomach is still quite queasy, I have a nasty headache (I tend to get bad headaches whenever I'm on prednisone or any steroid) and I've got body aches all over - no fever or sore throat, so I dont' think it's a virus.  Of course, too, the hip pain has not settled down at all.

If it hadn't been after hours when the sweating and nausea started yesterday, I would have called the ortho office to see if they felt it was a "reaction" or side effect of the injection (I've never had this with my other cortisone injections - some localed increased pain, yes, but nothing like this).  And of course, it is now the weekend, so I can't call.

Has anyone else ever experienced these types of things with a cortisone injection?  Is it somethign I should be really worried about or could I just try to wait it out and call their office on Monday?

I'm so very frustrated not only with my pain right now, but also with the doctor's office - why is it they don't always listen to their patients when they tell them where and how their pain is?  is it simply because they are the ones with the degree so they think they know it all?  I beg to differ if that's the case - WE are the patients - WE know how we are feeling.

Sorry, I guess I also needed to vent.

If anyone has ANY suggestions, anythign would be greatly appreciated.
16 Responses
Avatar universal
Oh, I feel for you.  I have almost the exact same thing going on.  Though my hand issues are now overriding everything else.  I have (from over 20 years ago) a herniated disk at L5S1, which is common.  Mine came from a fall.  It's been manageable and it only acts up every few years (though when it does flare-up, it does it 3 times in a row.)  My right hip, though, is brutal.  There are times I have to crawl up the stairs with it.  My guess is it's arthritis since I have it so bad in other spots.  Even the ortho and hand specialist assume that's what it is and given my history figure I'll need a hip replacement at some point.

I find in addition to my narcotics for my hand, I need Advil as well.  The hip pain sort of overrides everything.  I also alternate heat and ice and basically I just deal with it.  They did give me these lidocaine patches for my hand and I tried it on my hip and it gave me some real relief.  I have not done he cortisone shots on my hip yet.  That was one of the things they did to my hand and they did too many which made a bad problem in my hand even worse.  But the hip can really be bad.  I know mine wakes me up, can't get comfortable sitting, lying or standing.  I put pillows between my legs.

One thing I did notice that helped is using an elliptical machine.  No idea why.  I was trying to walk on a treadmill when i was at the gym.  No way can I do it.  Causes my hip to throb that night in the the worst way.  But the elliptical actually makes it feel better.  I don't know if it's the motion or what, but it makes a difference.  Also some gentle exercises in the pool is helpful as well.  And sitting in a jacuzzi.

Avatar universal
The side effects I had from the steroids was hot flashes, facial flushing, increased night sweats and weight gain. I sweat a lot normally. I'm on Wellbutrin and it's one of the side effects but while I was getting the injections it was horrible. I'd sweat for no reason just sitting in my office chair. My night sweats got 10x worse. Everything has finally calmed down now 2 months after my last injection. I gained 10lbs in a month and I'm still trying to get rid of it.6 to go. The weight gain alone is enough to make me never have another steroid injection.
Avatar universal
I never got weight gain from a steroid injection.  I did get a big weight gain from Lyrica ... 15 pounds in two weeks. Plus a few other side effects. When I came off it, the weight came off too, except for a pound or two.

When my daughter did an oral course of steroids for asthma, she GAINED a ton for a little kid.  She got that "moon face"look (so did my mom when she was on it.)  She was constantly hungry ...nothing would fill her up.  Poor little thing. I remember her asking me why.

I also remember that even when the taper was done, it took a bit longer for the weight to come off but it did eventually.
Avatar universal
When I was taking oral steroids I couldn't stop eating.  I worked in the seafood dept of a grocery store and we had pre-cooked coconut shrimp.  I was popping those things like candy, lol.  I probably gained about 20 lbs over the course of a few months.  Whenever I think of steroids, I also think of coconut shrimp.
As far as the shot goes, you are describing my symptoms exactly.  That's why I didn't go back for a third.  On the second the doctor prescribed percoset (previously I had no BT meds) for the time after the shot.  It helped a lot, compared to just the methadone at the time.  The first night after the first shot I was in so much pain and restless, I wish I would have gone to the ER.  I just paced around in the hot shower for hours until I could take my nighttime meds and go to sleep.  I do consider that some of the worst pain of my life and sort of compare any pain I go through to that.  
I hope you feel better soon.  If you are still feeling awful, I would go to the ER.
Avatar universal
thank you all for your kind words and suggestions.  It's a relief to know that more than likely what I'm experience is pretty "normal", even though I've never had this type of thing happen with my past cortisone injections.  I guess it's like anything else, sometimes things just affect you differently.

I usually do get the weight gain and moon face when i'm on oral steroids - I've been on them a Lot in my life - both for the arthritis, lupus and I also have pretty severe asthma that requires the steroids quite often.  I never have notice much of a weight gain with the cortisone shots in the past, but with this one affecting me so differently, it wouldn't surprise me if it did!  UGH!!

Unfortunately, i cannot take any type of anti-inflammatories - they not only tear up my stomach BIG time, even with stomach meds on board, but they also tend to raise my BP.  I don't have any trouble with my BP normally, unless I take anti-inflammatories.  So I tend to avoid them like the plague.

I actually would LOVE to sit and soak in a jacuzzi, however, it is impossible for me to get down into a tub and also back up again, so that's out of the question.  I am finding the ice does numb the hip for a while, but of course, as soon as it starts to "warm up" again, the intense pain returns with a vengeance.

I am taking my normal Lorcet Plus - I still have a couple of the dilaudid left that my PCP prescribed when I first went to her with the hip problem, so when it's med time again, I think I may try one of those and see if it helps any better than the lorcet.

I also forgot to mention the HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE insomnia last night!!!  I always have a lot of trouble sleeping anyway, and especially when I;m on steroids, but once again, never had it be even worse after a cortisone injection - until this time!!  I'm sure a good bit of it was because of the pain and not being able to get comfortable, but even when I was able to find a semi-comfortable position for at least a short time, I found myself just staring at the ceiling because I wasn't really even sleepy - and this was after taking my nighttime Ambien.  I think I got a total of about 1 1/2 hours all night - that could also be adding to my body aches today - hadn't really thought about that until just now.

Fortunately, the dizziness from yesterday has passed and the sweating is a good bit more under control - at least it's not jsut pouring off of me like it was yesterday afternoon/evening/night.  Now if I could just get the pain and nausea under control I'd be happy.  Hoping to be able to get a nap in a bit later.

Again, thank you all for your suggestions and if you have any others, I'd be happy to hear them!
Avatar universal
Please have them check the hip area if you are still having issues at the beginning of the week.If you are a long term(even on and off)steroid therapy patient it does put you at a higher risk for necrosis of the bone and the beginnings are not painful pain starts when necrosis has begun.The most common sites are hips,knees and shoulders.

Please mention it to the dr and not the PA especially after she did not adequately address your questions when expaining the test results.

I am not saying thats what this is but want you to be aware that it COULD be an issue that may need to be explored especially due to long term steroid use over the years.

I hope you feel better soon and get some solid answers.
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