Cortisone injections go a long way to quieting angry joints

2013-12-17 14:43:29 by Dr. Joe Congeni - Director of Sports Medicine, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

Nick Swisher makes a play from his knees in this May 2013 photo. Chuck Crow/PD Nick Swisher makes a play from his knees in this May 2013 photo. Chuck Crow/PD

With recent news about Indians’ key player Nick Swisher and his shoulder injury and diagnosis, it brings to mind many questions I get here in the office about bursitis and the benefits of injections.

One common question I get asked is whether injections are a temporary fix or  a long-term benefit.

Last week, I had the chance to talk with WAKR host Ray Horner about this topic.

Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.



Horner: Dr. Joe Congeni with us now, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital. Joe, what road do you want to go down with us today?

Dr. Congeni: Well, you know, Ray … when you hear about something like a real key guy on the Indians this year, Nick Swisher, who had some shoulder problems, but they decided not to put him on the DL and the MRI didn’t show any structural damage and decided to do an injection and see if he responds to that, one of the real common questions we get asked is, “Gosh, injections, aren’t they passé? Isn’t that something we used to use many years ago? Is there still any benefits?” Probably one of the No. 1 questions we get is, “Is it just temporary when you get the shot or does it help long-term?”

If you’re treating the right diagnosis, it can help long-term. It’s still a really important tool in the toolkit for sports medicine doctors. But, you have to use it in the right situation.

Dr. Joe Congeni Dr. Joe Congeni

In a situation like Swisher’s as an adult athlete — the good news is by the MRI, apparently, there’s not structural damage — much of the time there’s a lot of swelling or inflammation in this bursal sac that is around the joint.

These bursal sacs are around a lot of joints. It’s thin and silky, allows movement in the joint — nice free, smooth movement. And what happens in athletes is get beat up, swollen and inflamed, and red and painful, and many times, an injection of cortisone will go a long way to quieting these down.

One of the problems is that people use it in younger athletes and very rarely are these problems in younger athletes — rarely in high school, never before high school. I get kids who come in my office that are 14 or 15 and , “Hey, let’s inject them for bursitis.” That’s not appropriate and that’s not right.

But, when we get into adult athletes, these bursal problems or inflammation in joints, there’s still a real benefit to an injection or two of cortisone to quiet down a joint. They’re very helpful.

Horner: Alright, Joe, good stuff and certainly a lot of people want to know more about Nick Swisher and how it’s going to be, so thanks for the education. Joe, we’ll catch up with you next week.

Dr. Congeni: Alright, Ray, sounds good. Have a good week.

Horner: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni from Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital.

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