The People's Perspective on Medicine

Scary Side Effects from Steroid Shots

When you get a steroid shot in your spine or in a joint, does that steroid migrate to the surrounding bone and damage it? We think it might.
Syringe needle injection

Anyone with back pain deserves lots of sympathy. People with spinal stenosis have less space in their backbones for the spinal cord to pass through. The pain this creates can make people desperate for relief. Should they consider steroid shots?

Q. I have stenosis in my spine, degenerative back disease and arthritis. Some days I can walk for awhile but most of the time walking and normal activities are very painful. I hate steroid shots. The benefit seems short lived and I worry about long-term side effects.

Are there any home remedies that might be helpful for the inflammation and pain that has interfered with my ability to get around?

Side Effects from Steroid Shots:

A. We understand your concern about steroid side effects. Doctors seem to think that when they inject a corticosteroid into the spine or a joint (hips, knees, elbows or shoulders) that it says put. We strongly suspect that corticosteroids migrate into the surrounding bone. This could increase the risk for weakening and osteoporosis, thereby increasing the underlying problems.

People with arthritis in a joint do not need to have the bone become weaker. An eminent expert in the field once told us that steroids “melt bone.” Although he did not mean that literally, we think he was not far off with his vivid description.

Other side effects of injected cortisone or other corticosteroids include:


  • Fluid retention, edema, sodium retention
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Anxiety, nervousness, irritability, insomnia
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased blood sugar (glucose)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of potassium
  • Infection, immune system suppression
  • Osteopenia, osteoporosis

Home Remedies That May Help:

When it comes to home remedies, there is not a lot that can ease the pressure on nerves caused by spinal stenosis or bony narrowing of the spinal column. A general anti-inflammatory regimen does make sense, however. Some of the remedies we generally recommend to ease inflammation include:

  • Tart cherries
  • Almonds
  • Olive oil
  • Walnuts
  • Pomegranates
  • Blueberries
  • Salmon
  • Bluefish
  • Ginger
  • Vitamin D
  • Gin-soaked raisins
  • Certo & grape juice
  • Apple cider vinegar, apple & grape juice
  • Turmeric
  • Boswellia
  • Fish oil & green-lipped mussels
  • Acupuncture

To learn more details about such non-drug approaches we suggest our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

Other Research on Steroid Shots in the Spine:

A meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins suggests that injections of saline or local anesthetic may work about as well as corticosteroid injections (Bicket et al, Anesthesiology, Oct., 2013). The mere act of injecting fluid around the spinal column appears to accelerate healing.

These epidural injections were twice as effective at alleviating as intramuscular injections of steroids. It is encouraging to have evidence that this sort of prolotherapy can be effective without the damaging side effects of powerful corticosteroids. A more recent review suggests that steroid shots in the spine might have a very modest short-term effect on helping to delay or prevent back surgery (Bicket et al, Spine Journal, Feb. 1, 2015).

Prolotherapy for Other Joints:

Some People’s Pharmacy visitors have shared their experience with prolotherapy for joints.

Bocabayla said:

“I can tell you from personal experience prolotherapy works. I had muscle and ligament pains that started from an injured knee. The pains in the knee got better, leaving me with just the muscle and ligament pain.

“After having the dextrose shots over a 3 week period, directly into the areas of pain, a month later, those pains are all but forgotten.”

But the procedure is not universally successful. (What in medicine is?)

CFP related:

“Prolotherapy treatment did not work for me at all. It was the last treatment I tried before going ahead with total knee replacement surgery. I had several injections directly into the pain area 4 to 5 weeks apart that did absolutely nothing for my knee pain. I previously had several knee injections of SYNVISC and SUPARTZ over the years that worked for a while and basically delayed the need for surgery. However, after a while these injections stop working also.

“I am not a big fan of surgery, but with my replaced knee I can ski and play tennis with no pain; however the recovery was not easy and required a lot of physical therapy. That’s the trade off, I guess. Anyway, these injections will not build up new knee cartilage.”

Donnie warned:

“People with corn allergy can have severe reactions to dextrose in shots, and every other form. I am allergic to corn, and have to avoid anything that contains dextrose.”

Nancy D noted:

“I am a licensed acupuncturist (13 yrs) and physical therapist. If “saline” helps why not just plain acupuncture? I have had success placing needles at the site of the pain AND adding gentle movement (based on Qigong) is an essential tool in relieving back pain. If movement isn’t happening, patients have a tendency to guard against moving that may cause pain. Releasing spasms can be a major part of releasing pain. Where there is movement (the right kind of movement), spasms have difficulty surviving.”

VFC offered this testimonial:

“I have had great success with trigger-point dry needling for my chronic low back & sciatic pain. Trigger-point dry needling is a technique similar to acupuncture except meridians & energy flow is not the target. An acupuncture needle is inserted into tight muscle knots, which interrupts the pain signal to the brain & releases Factor P, involved in neurotransmissions. My PT says when the needle twitches, he knows he has hit the right spot!

“He will often attach electrodes and do electric stimulation to these needles. That part feels good. It takes about a week for the full effect even though I do feel immediate pain reduction. I am really a needle-phobe, but after one has had chronic pain you get braver and it really doesn’t hurt so much that I am unwilling to repeat when necessary.Better than Percocet and epidural steroid injections, with none of the complications. I require a tune-up every 3 or 4 months but it is well worth it.”

Diane concluded:

“Prolotherapy has been a life saver for me. 19 years after having a very successful spinal fusion, my back began to hurt. Acupuncture did not help and I did not want a cortisone injection. Prolotherapy worked amazingly well. After about five years, I needed it again and it helped immensely. I have no pain in my back! After 6 months of unresolved pain, I then used it for a mildly torn rotator cuff and, again, it miraculously fixed my shoulder. I am a real believer in prolotherapy.”

Revised 1/1/18

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    About the Author
    Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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    I had a cortisone injection in knee 3 months ago and since have had reaction: Hot flushing, swollen face, also red hot patches on elbows & neck & chest, headache in front of forehead that lasts about 1 hour, sometimes longer. Happens every night or early morning; now mostly 3 times a night.

    Hi. I’m Jordan. I was in a boat accident last year which left me with tons of bulging and herniated disks, spinal stenosis and other things one er heard of.i did pt for 10 months and it did nothing. Now, I’m doing injections. 1st was GREAT for 5 days! 2nd, I didn’t have any relief. In fact, I felt immediate pain and tension. Now, I can’t lay down or sleep cuz my whole body falls asleep! Any suggestions or does anyone know what or why this is happening or what I could do? Thanks in advance

    I have had a total of 10 neck and back surgeries, and the first two years, I have had a total of 16 steroid shots, which to me, lent to me having further surgeries! What started out at L5-S1, is now up to S1-T2! I’ve been living with continual pain now, for 12 Years!!! I think it’s horrible for ANY living creature to suffer, especially Humans, and I’m told I will be this way for the rest of my life! (I had the Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted, and it ended up adhering to my Spinal Cord! It had to come out!)

    They’ve legalized the Medical Marijuana in my State of Maryland, to get people off these Opioids, and I’m fine with that, but what if that doesn’t control my pain, that leaves me debilitated? We treat our animals better than ourselves, we put them down, when there is no other options, and want to be humane to them. Why not ourselves? I know that the Insurance Co. have a HUGE say, along with Big Pharma, which all leads back to the Banks, which OWN all of them. I don’t want to end up in any type of nursing care facility!

    Wow, reading all the comments affirm my conviction that doctors are drug pushers and depopulating the populace via big pharma. I am dropping out of healthcare. I just want help at home and will not take anything but nsaids on occasion.

    Curious about any comments on prolotherapy.

    I have been getting steroid injections in both hip bursa for several years every three months, and they help a lot. I might get a frontal headache and a little high blood pressure for a day or two after but I just take it easy until that wears off. I love the energy and the pain-free living. I am 77.

    Hi Martie, I get cortisone injections for bursitis in my hips, knees and each big toe every three months, and they are a life saver for me! My problem is when the cortisone starts to wear off, say approx. at 2.5 months, I can barely walk upstairs, my legs are so weak. Do you have that problem? Not sure what it is.

    Have a taste buds problem. Lost tastebuds 2 months ago. Unable to drink water, or eat food. Living on broth. Is there any help?

    I had two cortisone shots for bursitis near each hip (top of trochanter bone) due to my odd gait caused by my severe knee osteoarthritis. The right side shot felt so much different from the left side- much more pressure and pain- so I think it “missed the mark” into the bursa. The bursitis was relieved on both sides, but for a month I felt like I was SUPERWOMAN. No arthritis knee pain or stiffness, tons of energy, but also very jittery and had elevated blood pressure.

    A couple of months after the cortisone shots, I had a bone density scan done (at 56 I’m post menopausal, and I was scheduled for 2 knee replacements). Both thigh bones showed osteoporosis!!! No osteoporosis anywhere else! I have been active all of my life (weight bearing running, hiking, skiing, etc.) and eat very well. I can’t help but think that those cortisone shots, right near my thigh bones, might have played in a role in reducing my thigh bone density.

    I rescheduled my knee replacements and now await further testing to figure out why I have osteoporosis and what can be done about it. I have had cortisone shots in both knees twice before and never had the kind of reaction I had with the trochanter bursitis shots.

    I will never have cortisone shots of any kind again. Funny that I specifically remember asking my dr, just before having the bursitis cortisone shots, about any negative effects from the shots, and of course, he said “none.”

    My 20# dog had prolotherapy for a partially torn cruciate ligament. That was several years ago, and she is doing well. She’s 13 now and still runs like a puppy. It doesn’t work as well for larger dogs, but small dogs may benefit from this procedure.

    I also had cortisone shot today and my heart beat has gone up from 72 to 108. I am a bit concerned but apparently it is one of the side effect of cortisone.
    I will check with my doctor tomorrow or if i get worse, i will call him tonight!!

    I had nerve block injections in facet joint L4/5 and S1 last Friday. I started to feel ‘under the weather’ less than 2 days later. Symptoms started with headache, then nausea which is making me retch and diarrohea, I have diverticulitis anyway and so am used to having bouts, but I now have pain to the left of my belly button. I’m not sure what to do next, any suggestions?

    I had an injection of prednisone 2017 for a spasm in my back and stayed awake for 24 hours , severe migraine and severe diarrhea. Two months ago had a cortisone injection in my hip for bursitis and have had the same reaction. No sleep for 24 hours, severe migraine and continue to have severe diarrhea. I would not take prednisone again. I am 88 years ago. It did help my bursitis but I will have to use alternative treatments.

    I recently had a steroid injection given to me by a doctor for chronic hip and shoulder problems. Prior to being administered the medication I was walking, but with no burning sensation to my hips and my knees were not weak. Since then I have been having problems walking. Although I got the shot in my left buttock, both my knees are weak, painful and there is burning sensation from my lower back down to my ankles. I would have sudden almost falls while walking and with fatigue. The pain I am having now is more severe than before. And I thought that I should not have taken the medication since I was much better before. I am preparing to see a doctor on the island of Trinidad where I will have some tests done and hopefully hip replacement. I am disappointed with the side effects. I also have loss of appetite and am sweating profusely. Hope I will get over sooner than later.

    I’ve received cervical an lower back injections for 5 yrs. Looking back I’ve been receiveing injections from the long term side effects of them an not the accutual pain I went in for. Once you start feeling fatigue an sweating etc, your flora in your gut is gone.

    They are putting fungus into your body and you are swimming with fungi, aka steriods. Candida diet is the correct cure. If you are in bed feeling like you are being poisoned etc. or sweating very badly, high bp, high glucose,etc.

    My saving grace was I convinced a doctor to give me diflucan, aka anti-fungal an or anti-steriod. After 5 yrs of pain and suffering over one night, I was better. Then I started large doses of probiotics 100 billion in AM and another round in the evening. You must eat candida diet with probiotics or you won’t get better…the steroids have caused your gut flora to become negative. It’s the same thing with antibiotics. I was in bed for 6 month until I figured out this.

    I had a steroid injection 6 weeks ago. Since then I have missed three weeks work. Had to use a cane to walk for 2 weeks. Still walk with limp due to muscle weakness in right leg. Went back to doctor who gave me the injection. He denied the injection was the problem. Gave me muscle relaxers, pain pills, and relafen. All of this because of an allergic reaction to something which caused me to breakout on sides face and feet. Since then been to chiropractic. Can walk without cane and go back to work. Never again will I have steroid injection for anything.

    I had an epidural steroid injection on Monday, June 19 for L4 L5 disc bulge, SI problems, degenerative disc disease, & arthritis in my lower back. After the injection I was immediately tired. Returned home and slept all afternoon and night. Ever since the injection, my blood pressure has been high, my head hurts, I have extreme exhaustion, profuse sweating and a general feeling of being off. Anyone else feeling like this?? And what can be done to combat it or do I just have to live with it in hopes it will subside soon??

    I had one steroid injection yesterday because I have bronchitis. I was hesitant about taking it, but decided to proceed because I’ve been feeling so bad.

    Last night when I got ready for bed, I felt so nauseous and just sick at my stomach. This morning, my face is flushed and I’m still feeling “off” in my stomach…. a bit bloated and still nauseous. Not sure how long this will last, but I’m not noticing any major improvements with the bronchitis and the added side effects do not feel worth the shot to me.

    I had hip injection 8 weeks ago and have been ill ever since. My pain has spread, my legs ache and I am so weary I just lie in bed. Before this I just had a pain in my thigh.

    I had one shot in my spine near my neck for arthritis and I have had terribe anxiety and depression, face flushed, insomnia. I will never take steroids again.

    I came on this website after researching side affects for steroid injections. I have had 3 lots now the first lot I didn’t notice any side affects I had been in such torturous pain I could barely bend over the basin to get washed let alone do anything else.

    The second lot, I noticed after several days I had what I would describe as pancreatitis and thought I had cancer I was in so much pain, upset stomach, head aches, fast heart rate, high bp. low grade fever and a lack of interest in life in general. I saw my GP she sent me for an MRI which came back normal I then had further bowel inflamation for which I had a sigmoidoscopy I was told it was normal for my age with a few scattered diverticula.

    I hadn’t related any of this with the injections until my 3rd lot of injections after 5 days I was bed bound again with all the same worries when I realised it must be the injections that have caused this, my sister tells me I had the same problems last time. I don’t want anymore injections after this the long term affects are not known it scares me. But what do we do when things get really bad again with the back problems.

    I felt like I was going crazy. Night sweats so bad I’m changing clothes at 2:30am. Hot flashes, anxiety from hell, metallic taste in mouth. My body is experiencing ..crazy. It was actually an urgent care doctor who told me it might be from the cortisone shots. I’m living in hell. I can’t even go out and about without getting flushed and over heated.

    I’m going to try hard to reset my gut. I think if I can get my gut healthy it will help. No dairy, no gluten and a good probiotic. As I research exactly what cortisone is and the potential damage it can do to your gut and endocrinology system….wow Never ever. When you introduce cortisone, your body then tries to make up for it thinking it doesn’t have what it needs. I wish there was some sort of Steriod shot detox because I’m absolutely miserable.

    I had beem on gabapentin and tramadol for 2 years for what my doc assumed was nerve damage after no help and upping pills and jitters like worms crawling under my skin went to an ortho who did xray and said I needed a hip replaced and gave me an exray injevtion steroid felt great when I got off the slab but then day by day and weeks pain in groin unberable living on muscle rub and pain meds and tremers all mite long leg jumping cant sleep so much hell never was warned how can I make it stop don’t trust him now to do my hip. Wish I would have done more research.

    Injection 4 days ago, Kenalog, 2 in lumbar 2 in cervical. I have swollen red eyes face and neck, leg pain (pins and needles/numbness and tingling), been anxious and depressed, WEAK, can’t sleep, racing heart and sudden onset of high BP, and the sweats. That is just what is currently bothering me.

    After a visit with PA, I agreed to the “quick and easy trigger point shots” in office. Didn’t go in prepared. I am so regretful! I just wanted the pain to subside and I trusted her as my health professional.

    This is a very dangerous drug. I have had epidurals in the past. I have also had MS like episodes. Saw a neurologist on multiple occasions with half a dozen expensive tests and a diagnosis that “we can’t find anything wrong”. I need to go back and research if the coincide time wise…. Holy crud, if they do, I am going to give me pain specialists a good dose of reality.

    Yes, I had an injection of steroids in my Bürste and developed bilateral pulmonary emboli

    I received back shots of Kenalog a few weeks back for stenosis, degenerative anklosing spondylolithesis, degenerative osteo in my back etc. I felt horrible right away. Headache nausea tired they said it would subside in about 48 hrs. Headache lasted 5 days, keeps coming and going. Nausea never left. Have been having breathlessness, dizzy, terrible mood swings, cannot focus, insomnia, shakes, insatiable thirst, sore throat, swollen glands, stomach and leg cramps, stopped up…I could go on.

    Good thing I had gone to another doc this week and had blood taken. They shared with my reg. doc. got a phone call from the nurse that doc was calling in potassium supplement that I was to immediately start and get blood test at the end of the week because my potassium levels are dangerously low. Can affect heart muscle and everything. NEVER again.

    I have taken oral steroids over the years for asthma and lupus related issues. I haven’t ever had a problem like this. I had a little insomnia for a few days, and got real hungry but that was about it. If they tell me it is not shot related , I’m gonna tell them go look it up! And to add insult to injury, I’m in as much pain if not more than ever. Jeez. Thanks for all your sharing. Just lets me know that I’m not crazy. Be well folks. stay away from steroids if at all possible. Blessings

    In the past I had 2 Kenalog injections to my back only to develop severe muscle spasm and cramps to the point I could hardly walk. Therefore, I did not have the 3rd. The doctor said I may have a “sensitivity” to the Kenalog but they had another they could try.
    Recently, I saw a orthopedist about my arthritic knee and after I told him about the Kenalog he said they use CELESTONE and injected my knee. 5 days later I developed SEVERE DIARRHEA with stomach cramps. It is 2 weeks now with no let up. I don’t have the flu and I did have a negative stool culture. So what else could this be? How long does it take to get out of your system? I called the ortho’s office and his PA said that celestone does not have that side effect. I disagree ~ be wary of these shots given so liberally.

    I have just had first steroid injection 12pm today and have felt weird ever since. Awful front forehead headache, feel flushed.

    I am 59yrs and sickness. I have osteoarthritis in both knees. Went online to look up side effects now.

    Now realize we all experiencing same. I am healthy and neither drink nor smoke, don’t ever have flushes or nausea, or headaches.

    I have had several steroid injections. The first few helped for a few weeks. One for several months. I have scoliosis, stenosis and have at r captured spine. My last two injections were much worse. Both for sciatica. My side effects included diarrhea, nausea, fairness, thirst, weakness and general moodiness and lack of ambition. Never again.

    We were scheduled for a vacation and I wanted to decrease my pain level for the trip. I had to buy adult diapers on the trip and spent a lot of time resting in our hotel. My poor husband. I am now wanting to go the exercise route. I need much stronger core muscle strength. Anyone have suggestions.


    I’m a 56 year old post-menopausal female. On June 27th, 2016, I had a kenalog lumbar injection due to pressure on my spinal nerves from spondylolisthesis (sp). For five days, I had an unrelenting headache that wouldn’t respond to anything.

    That subsided a tidge, but had a lot of other symptoms. I became jittery like my blood sugar was low, also had weakness and cramping in my arms and legs. My blood pressure, which has been mildly high, went up to moderately high and I got nasty, week long headaches every two weeks. I stopped taking the Motrin I had been large doses of and the headache subsided as did the b/p issue.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the symptoms are still here. I feel like I’m coming down with something every day. I have twitches in my head as well as in my body when I exert myself. I feel nauseated and my intestines cramp and have diarrhea every day. That is NOT normal for me, I have more constipation than anything else.

    Pain management doc said symptoms were unrelated, go see my regular doctor. I can’t get in to see him until mid-September. I could go walk-in but I’d see a PA and he’d do nothing. What has this done to me? Skewed my electrolytes? I’ve tried natural electrolyte supplements and increased my potassium and magnesium foods. I’ve only lost a bit of weight so I don’t think it’s blood sugar related. I’m scared, I’m afraid I’m going to pass out, hit my head, have a heart attack, God knows what. I’ve never felt like this before!! I just want this to go away and I will NEVER have another injection no matter how bad the back/hip/leg pain gets! Please someone tell me that this will subside, it’s been 8 weeks so far…. :-(

    Hi lori
    irene..South Africa

    It’s been 8weeks for me also from celestone injection for my carpal tunnel syndrome. I got the injection on the 4th of July. Had to have 3 Drs but no test abnormality. I have headaches, debilitating back aches, stomach pain, muscular pains and aches, anxiety and depression, to name a few.

    Every 5th day brings about a new symptom. I am worn out and don’t know what to take for pain. I have become paranoid about side effects of meds and I refuse to take anti-anxiety meds- I have been on that road.

    I sleep daily wandering if will wake up the following day. I pray daily. God is kind and will answer our prayers if we don’t lose hope. All the best. Goodnight. Tonight, I have headaches and am battling to get some sleep.

    I can relate to some of the side effects shared in the posts. I’m a 57 year old female who received a lumbar injection of Kenalog-40 approximately two weeks ago for lower back and right hip/leg pain. I have central canal stenosis, bulging disks, and sciatica from nerve impingement.

    I went to a spine specialist who thought I’d benefit from epidural injections. The last two weeks have been an absolute nightmare. I usually do my research prior to taking any medication, but I was so desperate for relief that I didn’t bother.

    I’m really concerned after reviewing the side effects I found online. I have a family history of osteoporosis on both sides and was diagnosed in 2003 with mild osteopenia of the spine. My last bone scan T scores are borderline for treatment via oral medication. The last thing I need is to accelerate the bone loss process.

    Since the injection I have been experiencing the following: headaches, insomnia, facial flushing, irritability, erratic mood swings, reflux, and loss of appetite. I went for my follow up appointment last Thursday and the provider tried to talk me into another injection. He said he thought I would benefit from another injection because I’m still having symptoms. I agreed to come back on the 20th of this month for another injection.

    Today while bending over to turn off the hose faucet I had another episode of reflux. I had no idea what was causing this, so I started looking for answers online. I was treated in 2005 for reflux and it has been over ten years since I’ve had any episodes. I was told to avoid NSAID’s, which I have. I know it may take some time to see improvement, but I can’t deal with all of these new developments, so I’ll be calling in the morning to cancel. It’s definitely not worth the risk! Does anyone know how long this type of steroid induced reflux lasts? My husband has some OTC medication for GERD and I think I’ll take one tonight and see if it helps. I’d like to thank those who have posted on this site because it helps to read what you’ve experienced. I wish everyone the best in their recovery!

    I was told I needed a Kenalog-40 injection for chronic knee pain yesterday morning. Other then being told it could take up to 24-48 hrs to take effect, that is all I was told about this drug. I took a nap in the afternoon and woke up drenched from sweat. This hasn’t happened since the change finished. Couldn’t sleep last night and I and on edge. My knee is screaming at me. I already suffer from anxiety and take meds. for that also already have IBS-D. I can’t go through emotional ups and downs as well. I called this morning to talk about the pain in my knee the PA wasn’t available

    Received a kenalog cortisone injection in my si joint on December 10-2015. My nightmare began the first night, anxiety, insomnia, night sweats for 2 weeks. Then, period for 18 days (never happened before) racing heart, nausea, indigestion, gastric issues, weak legs, facial flushing, weight loss, no appetite, acid reflux, upper back pain, under rib pain, and the worst non bacteria cystitis (bladder).. Doctor doesn’t think it’s the injection that caused all this. I disagree. I was a healthy person before I received that injection.. It’s been 3 months and I am still not doing good. Wish I never agreed to the injection.

    I am a 39 YO female and I received my 2nd cortisone shot (L4/L5) on May 4, 2017. I have 3 ruptured discs at L4, L5 and S1. I had my first shot in early December and it went so well, I scheduled another one. Since then I have had a spinal headache that lasted 3 days. But the worst part has been the waves of anxiety. They hit me out of nowhere. Also, I have been experiencing hot flashes, insomnia and a feeling of fogginess. But, the anxiety is what is awful. I just want this to go away.

    Can anyone give me a rough idea of how long your symptoms lasted and how long until you felt back to “normal”? I would much rather deal with back pain that to ever feel like this again. Thank you in advance.

    I, too, had a steroid injection in my neck. I noticed approximately five days after, SEVERE Insomnia, anxiety, rapid pounding heart beats, two weeks of diarrhea, 14 pound weight loss in less than two weeks, blurred vision, inability to focus, panic attacks at night, weakness, & severe tremors.

    I had the injection Aug 3rd & the symptoms developed 4 days after. It is September 1st and I STILL have 50% of the symptoms mentioned. Dr’s try to play off the symptoms lasting more than 2 weeks, but I’ve read horror stories of the symptoms lasting WELL over a month!

    Am having similar issues, I had 5 steroid injection within 4 months on my shoulder and chest (upper right breast) and started having gastritis (belching, gassing, heartburn, middle and upper backache, upper stomach pain etc, ) fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite (have lost 8kg with 2 months), blur vision and worst of all irregular menstruation.

    I had a cortisone shot into my SI joint on Monday and on Wednesday had a PE in my lower right lung I’m just wondering if there’s any connection. Does anybody else know anything similar to that?

    I had cortisone shots into both hips 12/23/15…. since then had severe right side abdominal pain, diarrhea, severe frontal headache for the first week, headache gone…I went in to see a dr. In the first week….I asked him if this could be a reaction to the shots…he wouldn’t answer me….finally a month later my husband made an appointment with a dr. Asst. or ? She said my diarrhea was probably nerves as she had something like it before.

    After blood tests and stool samples I tested positive for E. Coli…so my husband and I got a n appointment with a dr. Who was very thorough and said there is usually an underlying immune problem to pick up E,. Coli…and did lots of tests and an Ultrasound of my abdomen…nothing showed up….they both said I should have a Colonoscopy….said to go on bland diet and not eat gluten which I had already started because I have lots of extended family with Celiac disease, take Tylenol 3 for pain and at night with my sleep me.

    The diarrhea has left me and the severe pain most of the time….so we scheduled pre op and colonoscopy…had the preop all blood tests ok but still test positive for E. Coli….next week will have to cancel Colonoscopy and hopefully talk to the dr. who did the preop….no one will admit these symptoms are side effects of cortisone…..the pain management nurse who did call the week after the shots said the symptoms were a reaction to the shots but nothing was put in my chart…..but my meeting with the person who gave the shots can celled my follow up. So everything is probably on hold for now so hopefully when the shots wear off the E. Coli was be negative. I am frustrated and just want them to admit and put in my chart that this was probably a reaction to the cortisone shots. I don’t intend to sue as most people are helped by the shots…but worried the test is still positive after 17 days. My both hips need to be replaced so that will be on hold until this is gone…..that is my story…sad but true.

    I’ve had several cortisone shots due to arthritis in my neck and lunar region of my back. My problem I’d I now have chronic severe diarrhea. They can’t find anything wrong with my stomach or bowels and I think it’s caused by the shots. It started about 2 months ago and I’d just had the shots in my neck, 5 in total. Does anyone else have this issue?

    YES!!! I had diarrhea for 2 weeks straight, lost 14 lbs in less than 2 weeks, SEVERE insomnia, severe tremors, panic attacks, heart pounding, blurred vision, sneezing, severe weakness / fatigue. My injection was done on Aug 3 the symptoms developed 4-5 days after.

    Yes, Melissa, I as well have these issues plus more side effects. How are you doing now?

    Concerning steriod shots I’ve been in 66 days of hell had only 1 shot 40 mg been in the er 7 times anxeity is out of control now have PTSD from it when will this poison stop in my body now seeing a theripist

    I had an injection on Aug 3rd. I began developing symptoms 3-4 days after. Symptoms of severe tremors, 2 weeks of diarrhea, 14lb weight loss in less than 2 weeks, panic attacks, SEVERE insomnia, rapid pounding heartbeat, blurred vision, sneezing & cough which I RARELY have. Last cold 22 yrs ago, & sneezing?

    When I was in high school once or twice, (I’m 66 yrs old). It is Sept 1st & I am STILL having 50% of the symptoms. These Dr’s say the adverse reactions to the steriod lasts about 2 weeks. That’s a damn lie!!! I am STILL having them just as several others I’ve been reading. I am soooo angry!

    I had an 80 ml cortisone injection 16 weeks ago for seasonal allergies.
    Since then I have had massive anxiety, insomnia, and some diarrhea. I am now on 7.5 mg Lexapro and Ativan when things get really get bad.
    I have had some improvement in symptoms after 16 weeks, but by any definition things are still horrible.
    Went to do my doctor. He said he had never seen this. Did a few test adrenal, thyroid….All normal.

    Still after 3 months the anxeity is out the roof still when will this go away

    I had 5 cortisone shots in 1 week and I have never been right since. I can’t walk good my ankles get swollen fast and I am weak and tired. I have swollen hands and all my joints ache.

    I was a very active person until I got those shots. Now I feel ready for the nursing home. It has been 5 months now. Been to every dr in town have 3 more to go. Nobody knows what is wrong with me
    I hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

    I was a very active person until I got a steroid shot in the neck & hip. 4-5 days after, I developed severe tremors, 2 weeks of diarrhea, 14 lb weight loss in less than 2 weeks, rapid pounding heartbeat, SEVERE insomnia, blurred vision, inability to focus, panic attacks at night while trying to sleep, weakness & fatigue. I was active & worked with a trainer, now I’m spending most of my time in bed. I had the injection on Aug 3rd, & I’m still having 50% of the symptoms

    I understand. I had a steroid spinal nerve injection 3 months ago. I seem to feel worse daily. Im fatigued, nauseous, constant headaches, crazy sleep patterns, depressed, my right leg ( previously it was my left) is often in excruciating pain, blood pressue spiking ( now on an additional blood pressure Rx ), body bloat, and more.
    I fell at work and have 2 herniated discs one compressing a nerve.
    I used to be happy, energetic, and in very good health for a 58 yr. old. Does anyone know when people get better from this?

    I had a cortisone shot a month ago and have been feeling dizzy, jittery and weakness since the shot. This is ridiculous. I will never get another one and can’t wait for this mess to get out of my system.

    I have only had 2 shots of Cordazone and it has done nothing for me. .I am still in pain..but do feel bloated..How long will this last. .I decided no more shots there not working anyway..what are my options..I have arthritis in the neck

    I have had 3 cortisone shots for frozen shoulder over 32 years. This injections have been done by a doctor who specialises in just doing this under imaging. It has been miraculous for me and I can’t thank him enough for giving me mobility back with our pain.
    I have had one in my spine when the pain was so bad I could not walk. It was successful and this was 10 years ago.

    My pain management specialist gave me a minimum of 16 to 28 epidural injections; three of which were caudal. and another 9 cortisone shots for my hip, knee and shoulder within the same period (February 27th through May 1st, 2015). The problems worsened and I stopped going to him. The pain up and down the side of my leg turned out to be iliotibial band syndrome and was a problem outside of the spine. I went to an ER for the pain. The ER referred me out to an orthopedic surgeon. I hate to say the orthopedicu surgeon did one more cortisone shot. He must have found the right place in my hip. The problem vanished. It came back a week later from the position my feet had to be placed in during a MRI for 30 minutes. That same position also caused caused bursitis in the opposite hip. I have NPS Syndrome and it was necessary to make sure my feet were straight …so they used very wide rubberbands to keep them together. Upon my last visit to the orthopedic surgeon he did two more My iliotibial band problem is gone; my bursisis is still annoying but I am afraid to see anyone who may give me steroids again. I probably had six or seven years (or more) worth of cortisone injections between 2-26-15 and Thursday (6-4-15). What will happen to me?

    I’m feeling rather shaky, my heart is fluttering and I do have heart arrythmias (my pain management specialist knew my history). I have had atrial ablation and three arrythmias remain of the four found on my heart monitor worn in 2009. I am on medication for them. To say I am bloated is an underestimation.

    What is all this cortisone going to do to me. I had asked the Pain Management Specialist if this much cortisone was harmful and he told me cortisone is in each cell of your body. Cortisone cannot hurt you. I had gone to this pain management specialist for years. I have always believed I had a little more cortisone each year than was recommended. The reason I went is because he got me out of terrible pain quickly and I trusted him: I have RSDS; a painful syndrome if ever and lived with daily spasms from what was the frontier of treating this back in the late 1980’s. I needed to travel with my position and he made it possible for me to get on a plane and not end up losing my business. I have a complex back history and it seemed better than surgery. I definitely am one of those patients who have had a long-term epidural (cortisone) history starting with 1996 to just recently (May 2015).


    I have alopecia and received multiple shots in the scalp once a week for months and months in an attempt to regrow the hair. This was in the 70’s and I was a child. I have only begun to see the negative affects 4-5 years ago when it was discovered that the soft tissue (tendons/ligaments) in my ankles were mutilated (equally with both) and I have never been into sports or anything that would’ve destroyed them. Had 2 surgeries to have them replaced. Have other issues within the body but they haven’t been resolved yet. It took nearly 40 years to discover the ankles, and I sit here wondering what else will be discovered in my body that has been destroyed from that medicine.

    Just wanted to find some information on steroid shots. I found some good information on your website. I will be looking into acupuncture instead.

    YES. Tried acupuncture for the first time a month ago. Wonderful. Had negative effects from cortisone shots.

    I been suffering with two herniated disc in the neck a herniated bulge in my lower back and pinched nerve since February 2014. Going to physical therapy twice a week now. I have taken several steroid injections to my spine. The first injection to the lower back didn’t relieve any of my pain. If anything made it worst. The pins and needles feeling would radiate down both legs. Now in 9/14 I received my first injection to my cervical area it was painful and it burned the center of my chest. Dr said that other patients have experienced this. Then I started experiencing this itchy hive around my body that also would welt. Didn’t think much of it figured the weather changing to cold might be causing my itchiness. But then I receive my second shot to my lower back and the itchiness have gotten worst. I took blood work that same day. It shows my white blood cells are like high. My lymphs are low and my polyps a lil high. What can this possibly be is it a allergic reaction to the shot?

    Hi DMG, were you already diagnosed with diverticulosis before the injection? I have severe diverticulosis, had an injection, my first, 5 months ago and had no problem.
    Now I am scheduled for another as pain is radiating down my left leg and I am just getting over a flare up of what I believe to be Diverticulitis and not sure I should so soon after flare up!

    I think you making a big mistake. Back surgery today is NOTHING like it was years ago. I had back surgery many years ago and spent 29 days in the hospital. Today is it our-patient surgery with very little time off your normal functions. The shots can do a lot of damage. It did for me when I went through the same thing as you. I had them for 5 months and lost about 50% of my muscle tone. Think about and get the operation and stay away from the shots. Good luck!

    Amen, Dr. Gainan, to all of that! :)

    Great response, Leslie. I am glad I am not having any injections. My doctor told me that Medicare has cut way back since January 2014 on back injections due to costs and cutbacks. That’s alright with me. I keep hearing too much about people getting diabetes and high cholesterol because of them.

    I tried Turmeric for one week, but didn’t like it. Hurt my stomach more than my 2 a day advil. So, I will be returning to advil, but also including more of the foods up above.

    I received a steroid injection in each of my knees six days ago. I have been suffering many of these side effects. How long do the side effects usually last?

    Side effects lasted a month for me.

    I got my 1st shot of steroids in my L5 disc/sciatica last Thursday. Got signs of nausea all week and tonight, 6 days later, I actually got sick. No heartburn at all. Is it normal?

    My hubby has a pinched nerve and herniated disk in the L3-L4 region, this is his second steroid inj. and he is showing symptoms of a possible side effect. He’s been aggressive, can’t sleep at night, falls asleep while sitting up or standing tho. And his ankles are swollen.
    The pain clinic says yes its a side effect, but. Is there anything we can do?? The injection alleviated some of his pain, but I’m not sure this is worth it.
    Anyone else experience the same thing? I’d love your input. I’ve taken away his narcotics thinking. It would help. He’s diabetic, and is taking 1,200mg of neurontin four times a day.

    I’ve had multiple steroid shots, and yes, they can make you really ‘amped’ for a while. Restless sleep, on edge, and high blood pressure. The symptoms slowly taper off after a few months. The more injections, the more intense the effects. I initially had six in my neck. They’ve since been fully absorbed, and now the pain and numbness is back pretty intensely. I had an injection on the right side which has helped that side, not directly at the joints but nearby so that it spread to cover the affected vertebrae. It’s a trade-off for sure.

    When the article was published on November 30th you said that the results of a study would be available in a few days but it is now December 9th.
    Will you have them soon?

    As with anything like turmeric or fish oil: start with a low dose so your body can become used to it. Increase dose over time. I usually wait a 1-2 weeks to increase the dose.

    I tried turmeric for inflammation but it caused me severe diarrhea, so be careful. I had a laminectomy 4 years ago and it was very successful.

    How true it is that steroid injections are not always the answer. I had an episode of severe diverticulosis after a back treatment. The steroids masked the symptoms of the infection, and I ended up in the hospital, and REALLY sick. I won’t have another treatment unless I can’t stand up any more.

    As a Chiropractor, I have seen many people receive various tratments with potentialy bad side effects. So many patients present with symptoms that respond very nicely to much less invasive techniques. These techniques consist of Low Level Laser Theapy, manipulation, Graston Technique ( a soft tissue manipulation technique), stretching, muscle re-education, kinesio tape. This is just a few modalities that many times are effective. I believe calling massage, Chiropractic, etc. alternative is incorrect. Rather Chiropactic, massage, etc should be considered first. In other words exhaust the non-invasive techniques first.

    Amen !!

    The Turmeric and Bromelain OTC pills sound interesting. Thanks for the tip.

    I spent 6 months in rehab after my laminectomy and the activities they had me do were excruciating and made my condition worse!

    Previous to my laminectomy, my inversion table helped. Now it makes me worse.

    When an orthopedic surgeon injected my arthritic knee with a steroid a few years ago, he told me it wouldn’t migrate into the rest of my body. I had been concerned since oral prednisone (which I’d had for asthma in the past) always made my blood sugar skyrocket. After just a few hours, I had no pain and felt euphoric and felt like I could go hiking and do stuff I hadn’t done for years. But when I checked my blood sugar the next day it was over 300 and stayed high for at least a week. Never again!

    I was diagnosed with stenosis of the spine. After several rounds of various types of injections, nothing helped, so I let them do a 4 level laminectomy on me. they made me 10 times worse. I now cannot walk more than 10-20 feet without serious pain. I take Vicoprofen which helps slightly. They now say I need a 4 level fusion which, in my mind, is a very serious surgery. For now I have opted to live with the pain rather than have them completely cripple me with another surgery!
    I plan to see a neurosurgeon soon and hope she is enlightened enough to think of alternative medicine such as acupunture!

    I have had achillies fasciitis for about 5 years. My ankle was so swollen and I had steroid injections for years. They would help for a few months then back to the pain. I found out about turmeric & Bromelain (450 mg) pills and have been on 2 a day (each after a meal) for nearly a year now. My heel has completely healed up and my other joints are doing so much better. I had tried many of the home remedies with no relief. This has worked wonders. They are an OTC purchase.

    While I enjoy your articles so much, I wish there were more answers that really work for those of us who are older, who have fought these diseases for years, and are suffering with constant pain, hate taking drugs, but cannot take the pain level. I was diagnosed with scoliosis at 28, and told to exercise, it wouldn’t get worse because I had already reached puberty. WRONG – tho I exercised and tried to eat healthy, the l7 degree curvature kept increasing until at 61 it was 45 degrees, pain excruciating, affecting my breathing.
    All thru these years I had exercised, rarely took any drugs at all, and fought the pain. I had surgery at 61, two rods, 18 screws, 3 body cages, etc. fusing T-11 thru S-1. The surgeon said he did as much as my body could take in the 7 1/2 hour surgery. 18 months later, I had to have a second surgery because the screw loosene at F-5. He then connected the rods to the pelvic bones, etc. Since then, I have a much better quality of life; I can breath and stand very straight – look very healthy; however, the pain (which I knew they couldn’t relieve in full) has gotten so bad I was getting very depressed for the first time in my life, and could not talk myself out of it. So, I finally gave in to taking celebrex 200 mg for pain and up to 4 or 5 tramadol a day for the pain.
    I’ve been on this regement for 7 months, and have to say, I am doing better than I have in many years. Yet, I worry about what the meds are doing to my body, osteperosis, etc., BUT WHAT DO YOU DO? I would so appreciate any comments you might have to help me. Thank you so much for The Peoples Pharmacy!

    I also have had many steroid injections over the years, the last one in a finger joint a year ago, also have spinal stenosis. To make a long story short have had gut issues starting in my early 70’s, I finally gave up on ever finding a reason/fix and have emininated dairy and gluten from my diet. Most of back pain and finger/knee arthitis joint pain as disappeared in the last 6 months. I can now stand/walk for much longer periods of time and am back to a lot more gardening and activities that require lots of movement, can walk through a grocery store. It was really hard to give up some of my very favorite foods but losing the years worth of pain I dealt with is making life much more enjoyable.

    Also worth investigating: a consultation with a physical medicine and rehab doctor (PM&R) rather than an orthopedic specialist, and exercise programs focused on back pain relief. Yoga with an experienced teacher is often a good place to start (look for someone with an RYT-500 certification who’s experienced in this area). Many folks experiencing back pain are often unfit due to inactivity and sarcopenia (loss of muscle due to age) and addressing this issue often helps back pain resulting from a variety of causes. Maintaining a healthy weight can help as well by reducing load, although I acknowledge that chronic pain makes this more difficult for a variety of reasons.

    My aunt had serious spinal stenosis. When she stopped drinking flouridated water, she received some relief from pain, and the stenosis did not worsen.

    I have been getting ESIs (Epidural Steroid Injections) every three to four months for the past two years, also for severe spinal stenosis @ L4-5. While aware of the possible side effects I am pleased with the relief, albeit temporary, I get from them.
    The next step is surgery. I had lower back surgery forty years ago @ L5-S1, and while it worked just as intended, now at age sixty six, I would rather avoid surgery if possible.
    I find that hot showers give temporary relief, allowing me to sleep at night, when the pain starts to return. Then I schedule another injection.
    Some people claim good results with chiropractic techniques. As a side note. When the doc announces “time out” to be sure we all know who, what, where, why, etc. were going to do this, he/she also reads the name of the steroid’s manufacturer to confirm it’s not from NECC. Good luck.

    In 1999 I was having back pain and went to a doctor who insisted the best thing for it was steroid shots. I had three shots spread out over a three week period. For all that I got one day of relief. I also got diabetes, high blood pressure and swelling in my face that left me almost unrecognizable. The swelling took about a year to go down.
    My advice to anyone contemplating steroid shots is to refuse and if necessary change doctors. I wish I had.

    I had a serious problem with my back and received the Steroid shots over some 5 months. All this time I was loosing muscle. After the fifth shot the pain went away but the damage was done. The sad part is I was told by a back physician that he could have taken care of the problem in out-patient surgery. I learned too late the truth to get a second opinion.
    I suggest anyone with with joint problems to certainly try GINGER and most of all GLUCOSAMINE. It’s sad to me that many doctors don’t understand the effects of many procedures and go ahead and do them anyway. One doctor told me after I had received a shot in my knee from him that he had proscribed GLUCOSAMINE to many of his patients. I haven’t had to go back for any more shots since taking GINGER and GLUCOSAMINE. May not work for you but it did for me.

    Re: spinal stenosis. I discovered that an inversion table, which allows you to hang upside down, stretching out the spine, relieves the pressure on the nerve. I used it every day until the pain ceased and now use it only to stretch out my back when I’ve done too much gardening or lifting.

    My husband had a similar issue, including the steroid injections, and a looming threat of surgery–when he was fortunate enough to find a neurosurgeon who sent him to be treated with acupuncture. He followed this advice–even though we both were skeptics about alternate medical treatment. He ended up being treated by acupuncture for 3 years with a remarkable response–from barely walking and much pain to resumption of normal activities. Incidentally, he is severely allergic to Aspirin, and any related NSAIDS, so that form of treatment isn’t possible. It is a treatment to consider–minimal risk for the possibility of much gain.

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