Have chronic, consistent, tough pain that just isn’t going away? Sick of taking over-the-counter painkillers every day, even though they barely work anymore? Worried that foot surgery might be your only remaining option? (Maybe you’ve even been told that by another doctor.)
You may be in need of a different approach—perhaps a steroid injection.
Although injection therapy is not a permanent solution to pain in and of itself, it can provide you with fast, long-lasting relief. More importantly, though, it can buy you time to more comfortably address the root causes of your pain. We are quite often able to help our patients avoid surgery by starting with an injection and following up with conservative care.
Let’s talk a little bit more about steroid injections, and whether one might be an appropriate option for your foot or ankle pain.
What Is Steroid Injection Therapy?
Targeted injections of a local anesthetic as well as a corticosteroid, such as cortisone, into a small area of injured tissue have been used for decades as an effective temporary remedy for painful symptoms that aren’t responding to other treatments.
This gives you a fast and effective way to find relief while working on a more comprehensive treatment plan.
What Conditions Can Benefit from Steroid Injection Therapy?
We may incorporate steroid injections into treatment protocols for many painful conditions, including plantar fasciitis, arthritis, tendinitis, and various sports-related injuries. It is a versatile anti-inflammatory treatment that works well on most forms of pain.
Remember, though, that while injections can assist in the tissue healing process to some degree, their main use is to temporarily alleviate painful symptoms rather than cure or treat the underlying cause of that pain.
When we give you an injection, we will also likely provide additional treatment options based on the ultimate cause of your injury—with the goal that by the time the steroid wears off several months later, the original cause of the pain has been corrected! Examples of additional treatments that may be considered include physical therapy, laser therapy, or custom orthotics.
How Long Does a Steroid Injection Last? What Kind of Results Can I Expect?
The steroid triggers a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and begins to work in your system right away.
Although it works quickly, it does so at different rates for different people. Some feel much better right away after the local anesthetic wears off, while others take a couple of days to get the full effect.
There may be a temporary increase in pain, swelling, and soreness for the first few days or hours after the shot, which you can control with an ice pack if need be.
In most cases, a single injection provides anywhere from 3-6 months of pain relief, depending on factors such as the potency of the steroid used, your health, the painful condition you have, and what underlying factors are causing it.
Are There Any Risks or Downsides to Steroid Injections? Can They Be Bad For You?
Steroid injections are quite safe when given in moderation. Single injections have a very low risk of anything more than minor and temporary side effects.
Multiple injections over a short time frame, on the other hand, may increase the risk of complications such as weakened tendons, nerve damage, or joint infection. We may limit how often you can get a shot, or how many you can get in a year, in order to limit the possibility of more serious side effects.
If you take blood thinners, you may need to stop for a few days before your injection.
Fast, Non-Surgical Relief for Foot Pain
When administered under the careful guidance of your foot and ankle physician, injection therapy can be an extremely effective medium-term remedy to painful inflammatory symptoms from a wide range of conditions.
It allows you to return to your normal activities sooner and get fast pain relief, while giving your doctor time to address any additional underlying causes of your injury or discomfort—including fully exploring and exhausting all conservative treatment options to give you the best possible chance of avoiding surgery!
If you’re currently struggling with pain in your feet or ankles, please contact the Community Foot Clinic of McPherson for effective treatment options at (620) 241-3313.