Steroid Injections

This information will help you prepare for your steroid injection (shot).

About Steroid Injections

Steroid injections are used to help with swelling, stiffness, and pain in your body. They’re usually given to treat:

  • Arthritis (painful swelling and stiffness of your joints)
  • Tendonitis, which is inflammation in a tendon (tissue that attaches muscle to bone)
  • Bursitis (inflammation in the area around a joint)

You can get the injection in your joint or the area around your joint. The most common sites for steroid injections are the:

  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Finger
  • Wrist
  • Knee

It may take 3 to 4 days for you to feel the full effects of the steroid. These effects usually last 3 to 4 weeks or longer.

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Before Your Procedure

Speak with your doctor

Tell your doctor the following information before your procedure:

  • If you’re taking any:
    • Prescription or over-the-counter medications, including patches and creams
    • Herbal supplements
    • Dietary supplements, such as multivitamins
    • Chemotherapy
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®), and naproxen (Aleve®)
    • Medications that prevent blood clotting, such as:
      • Warfarin (Coumadin®)
      • Clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix®)
      • Tinzaparin sodium (Innohep®)
      • Dalteparin sodium (Fragmin®)
      • Enoxaparin (Lovenox®)
      • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto®)
      • Heparin
  • If you’re allergic to:
    • Any medications
    • Latex
    • Adhesive tape
    • Lidocaine
    • Antiseptic solution (substance used to kill germs and bacteria)
  • If you have an infection anywhere in your body.
  • If you have a history of bleeding disorders.

You may have to stop taking some medications before your procedure. Do not stop taking any medications unless instructed by your doctor.

Before your procedure, someone will call you and tell you the time and location of your procedure.

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Day of Your Procedure

  • Your doctor will talk with you about the risks and benefits of having the steroid injection and ask you to sign a consent form.
  • You will be given a gown and asked to take off any clothing that covers the affected joint.
  • You will sit or lay in a position that allows your doctor to give you your injection. They may use an ultrasound to help find the best place for your injection. Then, your doctor will clean the area and inject a mixture of the steroid and a numbing medication.
  • Most people say that the injection isn’t painful. Any discomfort should go away in a few minutes as the numbing medication starts working.
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After Your Procedure

  • The numbing medication usually wears off in 6 to 8 hours. After it wears off, you may feel some soreness in your joint. The soreness may last for up to 48 hours until the steroid medication starts to work.
  • If you feel sore, using a cold pack may help. Hold the cold pack on your joint for no more than 10 minutes, then remove it for 10 minutes. You can do this several times a day, as needed. Do not use cold packs if you have:
    • Problems with blood supply, such as Raynaud’s Disease
    • Problems related to poor circulation
    • Nerve problems with poor sensation
  • Keep a dry and clean bandage or Band-Aid® over the injection site for 24 hours.
  • The site may be sore for a few days. Ask your doctor about taking pain medication.
  • Ask your doctor if there are any activities or movements that you should avoid.
  • Do not use hot or warm packs on the site for 24 hours after your injection.


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Call Your Doctor or Nurse if You:


  • Have a temperature of 100.1° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Have pain or swelling at the injection site that does not start to feel better after 48 hours
  • Develop:
    • Skin irritation
    • Increased redness, bruising, or discoloration
    • Warmth
    • Burning
    • Itching around the injection site
  • Have any new or unexplained symptoms
  • Have any questions or concerns
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