Perks of a Steroid Shot
If there is such a thing as a small miracle, then I have experienced one. Back in March, I had a cortisone shot in my hip for bursitis that is secondary to my arthritis. I was really nervous about the whole thing, but I realized that my hip pain was really impacting my quality of life in a negative way and that I was in an unacceptable amount of pain.
I had never had a cortisone shot before. My rheumatologist told me it wouldn’t be too bad. I didn’t really believe her, but figured that nothing could be quite as bad as the pain I was in. And she was right. She walked me through the whole thing and it really wasn’t that bad.
I would like to say that I’ve been a lot more active since my hip pain is much improved, but I really haven’t been as much as I would have liked. I’ve been swamped with finishing up school, and I’ve been hoping that the pain would stay away so that I could walk across the stage to graduate without being in pain, and that has happened
I am realistic about this situation, though. I know that, as it goes for most people, I am really hitting the upper limit for how long these injections tend to last. I am thankful for the reprieve I have been given, but now I fear the pain that is no longer there. I wait for the day when I wake up and am in constant pain again. While my hip has hurt a few times over the last few months, none were as bad as it had been.
I also know that I am lucky that the cortisone shot worked at all. It doesn’t work for some people, and I am truly grateful that it worked for me. And it isn’t just pain. When my hip was at its worst, I couldn’t really sit on hard surfaces. My hip would lock and seize up in pain randomly, and one time, when I attempted to stand up, my hip just totally gave out and I fell right back down. So my hip has come a long way from that. I didn’t even know that was possible!
Not in the clear
To be clear, though, I am not in remission. I have significant swelling and pain in my other joints. I am still sick. But I never realized just how much my hip pain was contributing to my overall poor physical and emotional health. People I have seen over the last few months who did not know I’d had a cortisone shot, commented that I looked happier and lighter. My therapist has told me that many times over the last few months. It’s pretty unbelievable that people who didn’t even know I was in pain all the time still noticed a difference in me.
In some ways, I wonder whether this experience with the cortisone shot has been a panacea or a Pandora’s Box. Cortisone shots can degrade joints, so they can’t be given that often. This means that I need to enjoy the lack of pain while it lasts, because it won’t be a forever thing. I think after this, I probably won’t get another one until my wedding.
I can’t speak to having a cortisone shot in any other body part than the hip, but I would definitely recommend asking your doctor about them. My old rheumatologist never even gave me the option. When I saw my new rheumatologist two appointments ago, she offered it up. As I said, I was dubious. I really wanted to chicken out and tell her I would do it at my next appointment. But I decided I would take a stab at it (literally).
I’m really happy I did it. It has improved my quality of life so much, and I’m not the only one who has noticed a difference. If I would have known what a minor procedure this would be, and the profound impact it would have, I would have done it a long time ago, although as I said, it wasn’t really an option until now. I know this won’t last forever, but I feel lucky that the cortisone shot has lasted as long as it has.
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Leslie wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).