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Cortisone Shots

Up until almost 2 months ago I had never had a cortisone shot in my life. Given my level of activity over the years I am both grateful and proud of that fact. Then it happened. I ended up with trigger thumb on my right hand. It seems moving to the country and splitting wood all winter aggravated the tendon responsible for bending my thumb. 

It’s the top joint of my thumb. At first I noticed it catching or popping. It’s a really weird sensation that you don’t want to experience. I tried to resolve it myself using Dr. Google. When that didn’t work I booked physiotherapy treatments. They were interrupted by COVID 19. As soon as I could I went to back physiotherapy and we worked away at relieving the inflammation of the tendon and getting rid of the nodule that had formed due to the overuse. After a number of weeks we hit a plateau so it was off to a doctor who specializes in hand injuries. The first step in the treatment of trigger thumb (and trigger fingers) is a cortisone injection. The injection has helped. All of the pain has subsided but the joint in my thumb is still popping. The next step is to have another shot. I’m due for that in September. 

Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory agent that is injected into a specific area of the body. The idea is that it precisely targets the area in need of pain relief.  It is most commonly used in joints like knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, wrists and it’s even used in the spine. In my case it went into the tendon sheath at the base of the thumb. For some people it can cure the problem all together. The pain and the popping/catching goes away completely. For some the relief is felt in a day. That didn’t happen for me. It took a couple of weeks before the pain went away. Since then I’ve gotten more movement in the joint. Prior to having the shot I couldn’t bend that part of my thumb. That’s another weird sensation that you don’t want to experience. 

I find it fascinating that a little bit of inflammation can completely alter the function of a joint. I find it equally as fascinating that an injection can make it all better. Still, cortisone is not a miracle drug. There are risks in using it, such as cartilage damage, nerve damage and joint inflections. That’s why its use is limited to 3 to 4 times per year. Once again, it’s best to keep all of our body parts in good working order by finding the balance between moving them enough but not too much.

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