Cortisone Shot vs PRP Injections: Which is Right for You?

July 19, 2023
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)Steroid Injection
by Kolton Opdahl

A Cortisone shot and PRP injections are two common treatments for musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis, and bursitis. While cortisone shots have been used for many years, PRP injections have gained popularity in recent years as a more natural alternative. This blog post will explore the differences between cortisone shots and PRP injections, their effectiveness, side effects, cost, and availability.

Differences between a Cortisone Shot and PRP Injections

Steroid Injections

A cortisone shot, also known as a corticosteroid injection or a steroid injection, is a medical procedure used to reduce inflammation and pain in various parts of the body. It involves injecting a small amount of corticosteroid medication, such as prednisone or triamcinolone, directly into the affected area.

Cortisone shots are commonly used to treat conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. They can provide quick and effective relief from pain and swelling, which can improve a patient’s mobility and quality of life.

However, cortisone shots are not without potential side effects. These can include increased pain, infection, thinning of the skin or bones, and temporary spikes in blood sugar levels. As such, it’s important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of a cortisone shot with a healthcare provider before undergoing the procedure.

Overall, cortisone shots can be an effective tool in managing certain musculoskeletal conditions, but should be used judiciously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

PRP Injections

PRP injections, also known as platelet-rich plasma, use a concentrated dose of platelet-rich plasma obtained from the patient’s own blood. Platelet-rich plasma contains growth factors that promote healing and tissue regeneration. The concentration of platelets in PRP injections is much higher than that in normal blood, which makes it more effective in promoting healing.

Effectiveness of a Cortisone Shot and PRP Injections

Cortisone shots have been used for many years and are known to provide short-term relief from pain and inflammation. However, studies have shown that their effectiveness decreases over time, and repeated injections can have harmful side effects. PRP injections, on the other hand, have been shown to be effective in promoting healing and tissue regeneration, with studies showing long-term benefits. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that PRP injections were more effective than cortisone shots in treating chronic tennis elbow.

cortisone shot

Side Effects of a Cortisone Shot and PRP Injections

Cortisone Shot Risks and Side Effects

While cortisone shots can provide effective pain relief, they also carry potential risks and side effects. These can include an increased risk of infection, temporary spikes in blood sugar levels, and thinning of the skin or bones near the injection site. Additionally, repeated cortisone shots can weaken tendons and potentially lead to tendon rupture. Other side effects can include nerve damage, facial flushing, and allergic reactions. While these side effects are relatively rare, it’s important for patients to discuss the potential risks and benefits of a cortisone shot with their healthcare provider before undergoing the procedure. Long-term use of cortisone shots can also lead to more serious side effects, such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and increased risk of infection.

PRP Injection Risks and Side Effects

PRP injections, on the other hand, have fewer side effects, as they use the patient’s own blood, reducing the risk of an allergic reaction. The most common side effect of PRP injections is temporary pain at the injection site. In rare cases, patients may experience infection, nerve damage, or allergic reactions to the injection. See our blog post on how to minimize PRP risks and side effects.

Cost of a Cortisone Shot and PRP Injections

Cortisone shots are typically covered by insurance and are therefore more affordable than PRP injections. PRP injections, on the other hand, are not usually covered by insurance and can be more expensive. There are some insurance companies beginning to pay for PRP procedures. But your insurance benefits would need to verified by a medical biller before hand. The cost of PRP injections varies depending on the condition being treated and the number of injections required.

Availability of a Cortisone Shot and PRP Injections

Cortisone shots are widely available and can be administered by a healthcare professional in a doctor’s office or clinic. PRP injections require the patient’s blood to be drawn and processed to extract the platelet-rich plasma, which is then injected back into the patient’s body. This process requires specialized equipment and training and may not be available at all healthcare facilities.

Conclusion

Cortisone shots and PRP injections are both effective treatments for musculoskeletal conditions. However, they differ in their mechanisms of action, effectiveness, side effects, cost, and availability. While cortisone shots provide short-term relief from pain and inflammation, PRP injections promote healing and tissue regeneration, with long-term benefits. Cortisone shots can have several side effects, especially with long-term use. PRP injections have fewer side effects, as they use the patient’s own blood. Cortisone shots are more affordable and widely available, while PRP injections are more expensive and require specialized equipment and training. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine which treatment option is best for your specific condition. In some cases, a combination of cortisone shots and PRP injections may be recommended.

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