This is a tricky subject to talk freely about. Cortisone has it’s time and place, but I think the most important question isn’t whether cortisone is good for tendonitis, but whether all other treatment modalities have been exhausted. Lets start out with a little bit of detail. For the purpose of this posting we are going to be using Cortisone as an example, which is a very popular Corticosteroid. There are other types of steroids for different ailments, but right now, we will talk about Cortisone only. Now, what is Cortisone? We need to first explore the root:
Cortisol is the naturally occurring substance in the body, which is produced by the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland sits on top of the kidney, and it’s purpose is to produce adrenaline. The adrenal gland is triggered by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. Cortisol has many functions, many of which haven’t been discovered yet. When cortisol levels are elevated it helps the body cope with stressful situations such as infection, trauma, surgery, or emotional problems.
Cortisone Affects The Body
Corticosteroids, also frequently referred to just as steroids – but aren’t to be confused with the male-hormone related steroid compound that some athletes abuse. Steroids work by decreasing inflammation and subsequently reducing the effectiveness of the immune system. Inflammation is a process in which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals can protect against infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. This might cause inflammation to work against the body’s tissues and cause damage. Signs of inflammation are redness, warmth, swelling and pain.
Although they may cause a range of side effects, corticosteroids may also relieve inflammation, pain and discomfort of many different diseases and conditions. If you work with your doctor to make choices, you may achieve significant benefits without the use of steroids which will eliminate the risk of such problems.
Although steroids can be very effective as a one-time shot at reducing inflammation resulting in sudden trauma to tissue, they should not be considered until other avenues of treatment have been exhausted. Repeated use destroys the connective tissue in the affected area. It’s a good practice to reduce inflammation, discover the true origin of the injury/pain and correct that.
Now, lets talk about tendonitis. Seeing that we know what Cortisone is and what it does, lets figure out what tendonitis is. The phrase “itis” is Latin for inflammation, so logically tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon. Cortisone helps treat inflammation so in theory tendonitis can be treated with cortisone. The above statement “it’s good practice to reduce inflammation, discover the true origin of the injury/pain and correct that” makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it? Jumping too quickly to cortisone can cause major issues. Inflammation can be caused by injury or repetitive strain (in the case of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome), so measures should be made to make sure that before cortisone you should always follow three simple steps:
Rest: To help your injury recover faster, especially with your feet you have to take time for your body to heal. If you don’t rest your body won’t have a chance to heal itself and you will never get better.
Stimulate Blood Flow: Inflammation usually means that there is an injury. Stimulating nutrient rich blood to the affected area will help give your body special expedited healing powers. You fuel up your body with food before and after a race… your injured tendons need the same fuel. Having done some research, there are some superior medical devices out there that stimulate blood flow naturally while your at home.
If all other modalities fail, then explore the possibility of treating the pain with Cortisone. A PubMed Archive Report found that you were six times more likely to rupture your tendon while using Cortisone than without. Why? Because the Cortisone reduced the inflammation, hid the pain, and let you continue on with your life as if you didn’t have an injury. What happened in two weeks when the Cortisone wore off? You were in more pain than before. Why? You’ve made the injury worse because you’ve hidden the pain, not knowing that for the last two weeks you’ve been slowly tearing the tendon further.
So–Cortisone has it’s time and it’s place. When dealing with breathing issues, allergic reactions, or arthritis (which is incurable), Cortisone works great. But for something simple like a little tendonitis, even though it hurts it’s best to not do anything as drastic as inject yourself with Cortisone.