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Can you feel sick after a cortisone injection?

Cortisone injections are a commonly used medical treatment for various conditions, including joint inflammation, allergies, and certain skin conditions. These injections deliver a potent anti-inflammatory medication called cortisone directly into the affected area, providing relief and reducing swelling and pain. While cortisone injections can be highly effective in managing these conditions, like any medical treatment, they can also come with some potential side effects. In this article, we will explore some of the possible side effects of cortisone injections and how they can impact your health.

Common Side Effects of Cortisone Injections

Stomach Upset

One of the common side effects of cortisone injections is stomach upset. This can manifest as nausea, indigestion, or even abdominal pain. These symptoms are usually temporary and subside within a few days. It is advisable to eat a light meal before the injection and avoid spicy or greasy foods afterward to help alleviate any stomach discomfort. If the symptoms persist or worsen, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider.


Another side effect that some people may experience after a cortisone injection is hiccups. While hiccups may seem harmless, they can be quite bothersome and last for a few hours or even days. The exact cause of hiccups after a cortisone injection is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the effect of the medication on the diaphragm muscle. Drinking a glass of water, holding your breath, or gently pulling on your tongue may help relieve hiccups. However, if they persist or become excessively uncomfortable, it is recommended to consult your healthcare provider for further guidance.

Tendon Weakening and Rupture

Cortisone injections can also potentially weaken tendons and increase the risk of tendon rupture. This is why healthcare providers often limit the number of cortisone injections administered to an individual. Tendon weakening and rupture can occur in any tendon, but it is more commonly seen in the Achilles tendon (located at the back of the ankle) and in the tendons of the rotator cuff in the shoulder. It is important to be aware of any changes or pain in the affected area after a cortisone injection and to inform your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

Less Common Side Effects of Cortisone Injections


While rare, there is a small risk of infection associated with cortisone injections. Infections can occur if the injection site is not properly sterilized or if there is a break in the skin. Symptoms of infection may include increased pain, redness, swelling, warmth, or drainage at the injection site. If you suspect an infection, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly as infections can spread and lead to more serious complications. Treatment options may include antibiotics or, in severe cases, surgical drainage of the infected area.

Allergic Reactions

In some cases, individuals may have an allergic reaction to cortisone injections. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe and may include symptoms such as itching, rash, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing. It is important to notify your healthcare provider if you have a history of allergies or have had a previous allergic reaction to corticosteroids before receiving a cortisone injection. In severe cases, an allergic reaction may require immediate medical attention and the administration of epinephrine.

Skin Atrophy

Skin atrophy is another possible side effect of cortisone injections. This refers to the thinning of the skin at the injection site, which can make it more susceptible to bruising and tearing. Skin atrophy is more commonly seen with repeated or high-dose cortisone injections. Areas commonly affected include the face, hands, and joints. If you notice thinning or discoloration of the skin at the injection site, it is important to discuss it with your healthcare provider. Treatment options may include the use of topical creams or discontinuation of the injections if the side effect becomes severe.

Rare but Serious Side Effects of Cortisone Injections

Adrenal Suppression

Adrenal suppression refers to the suppression of the body’s natural production of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisone injections, particularly if administered in high doses or over a long period, can disrupt the normal functioning of the adrenal glands. This can result in a condition known as adrenal suppression, which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, weight loss, low blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances. If you experience these symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention as adrenal suppression can be serious and require medical management.


Osteonecrosis, also known as avascular necrosis, is a rare but serious side effect that can occur after a cortisone injection. It refers to the death of bone tissue due to a disruption in the blood supply to the affected area. Osteonecrosis most commonly affects the hip joint but can also occur in other joints such as the knee, shoulder, or ankle. Symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, or limited range of motion. Treatment options may range from conservative measures such as pain management and physical therapy to surgical interventions, depending on the severity of the condition.


Cortisone injections can provide significant relief from pain and inflammation for many individuals. However, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects that can occur. Common side effects such as stomach upset and hiccups are usually temporary and resolve on their own. However, more serious side effects such as tendon rupture, infections, allergic reactions, skin atrophy, adrenal suppression, and osteonecrosis are possible, albeit rare. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of cortisone injections with your healthcare provider and to report any concerning symptoms or side effects promptly. By being informed and proactive, you can make informed decisions about your treatment plan and ensure the best possible outcome for your health and well-being.


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