Can You Get a Steroid Injection for Shoulder Pain?

Dec 19, 2023 | Pain Management

Pain is the body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. If you’re experiencing chronic pain — pain that lasts longer than three months and is unresponsive to treatment — your body is begging for help. 

Chronic pain, including severe discomfort in the shoulder, can be especially frustrating because it can interfere with many everyday movements and tasks. Whether it’s caused by arthritis, rotator cuff injuries, or even repetitive strain from activities such as tennis or gardening, shoulder pain requires some special attention to get it feeling normal again and allow you to get your life back. 

While therapies can vary widely depending on the condition and the patient, there’s one treatment that has proven effective for many chronic pain patients: steroid injections. Let’s take a closer look at what steroid injections are, how they work, and what kinds of benefits you may experience from them.

What Is a Steroid Injection?

Steroids are synthetic drugs designed to mimic the effects of a naturally occurring hormone in the body called cortisol. It reduces inflammation while suppressing the immune system, which can help relieve pain. 

When steroid shots (also called corticosteroid or cortisone shots) are injected directly into a painful area such as the shoulder, they can provide targeted relief from pain and inflammation.

How Does a Steroid Injection for Shoulder Pain Work?

A steroid injection for shoulder pain involves injecting a corticosteroid, often combined with a local anesthetic, directly into the shoulder joint or surrounding tissue. The steroid decreases the inflammation that’s causing the pain, while the anesthetic provides immediate relief.

The process begins with your healthcare provider cleaning the injection site to prevent infection. Then, using ultrasound or fluoroscopic guidance to ensure precise placement, they will inject the steroid medication into the shoulder. The procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes, and you may start to experience relief within a few hours or after a few days.

Steroid injections can provide significant relief from shoulder pain for many patients. They offer targeted, powerful anti-inflammatory effects directly at the source of pain. This can lead to improved mobility and function, better quality of life, and reduced need for other pain medications or additional therapy.

Possible Side Effects and Risks

While steroid injections can provide significant relief from shoulder pain, they are not without potential side effects and risks. These may include pain or bruising at the injection site, infection, changes in skin color around the injection area, and potential weakening or rupture of tendons.

Systemic side effects, while rare, can also occur. These include elevated blood sugar levels, especially in patients with diabetes, and bone thinning or osteoporosis with repeated injections.

Keep in mind, too, that every patient can react to treatment differently. With so many variables to account for — such as varying symptoms, the patient’s pain tolerance, and the body’s ability to react to treatment — be sure to talk with your care provider about setting realistic expectations for how your body will respond.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Steroid Injections?

Steroid injections may be a good treatment option for individuals experiencing chronic shoulder pain due to conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or bursitis. They may also be beneficial for those with acute injuries such as rotator cuff tears.

However, certain health conditions may prevent some individuals from being good candidates for steroid injections. These include active infections, allergies to steroid medication or local anesthetics, uncontrolled diabetes, or other systemic conditions.

Other Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain

There are many non-steroidal treatments available for shoulder pain, including: 

  • Physical therapy
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Rest and nutrition
  • Hot or cold therapy
  • Psychological counseling
  • Invasive treatments such as surgery for severe cases

While these treatments can be effective, steroid injections often offer quicker, more targeted relief. However, it’s important to discuss all your treatment options with your healthcare provider to determine the best approach for your specific condition and lifestyle.

Get Steroid Injections for Shoulder Pain From HPM

HPM is one of the country’s fastest-growing providers of pain management care. Our highly trained medical specialists go the extra mile in identifying the true source of each patient’s pain and creating a treatment plan that gets results.

We offer steroid injections for shoulder pain at our locations in hospitals and clinics throughout rural America. We believe that everyone deserves access to top-quality pain management care, no matter where they live. Call or visit our website today to find a location near you and schedule an appointment with one of our pain management specialists.

Remember, living with chronic pain isn’t a life sentence. There are treatments available that can provide significant relief and improve your quality of life.