Home Steroid Information How Long Do Cortisone Injections (Shots) Last and Stay in Your System?

How Long Do Cortisone Injections (Shots) Last and Stay in Your System?

Posted by admin in Steroid Information Category. Reviewed and Updated: 26 January, 2018

If you intend to use any medication from the corticosteroid group, you should know the characteristics of its action in the body, when you should expect a positive effect and how long this positive effect will last. One of the medicines that is used to reduce inflammation is cortisone.

In this article, we will try to answer the following questions:

  • How long does it take for a cortisone shot to work?
  • How long does a cortisone shot stay in your system?
  • How long do cortisone shots last?

To begin with, we will talk a little about the cortisone and the rules for its use.

Key features and rules of use of cortisone injection

Corticosteroids are produced in the adrenal glands. They are natural hormones belonging to catabolic substances. Synthetic versions of these substances are used to produce special medicines that are widely used in medicine. These steroids are capable of eliminating inflammatory processes, and this property was used by scientists to produce a synthetic corticosteroid called cortisone. It was the first drug in the range of synthesized hormones. After it, others were invented, but this one has not lost its relevance even today. The injections help the human body overcome shock and relieve inflammation, but this medicine suppresses the activity of the immune system and reduces resistance to viral diseases.

It is effective and works well if you adhere to certain rules for its use:

  • This medication usually isn’t used alone, and its use is combined with other medicines and methods of treatment.
  • Steroid overdose and frequent use can be dangerous. It is usually not recommended to exceed three to four cortisone injections per year in the treatment of orthopedic diseases (however, there is no clear rule).
  • After such an injection, the injection site cannot be overstrained to prevent ligament rupture.
  • Before using it, you should take the appropriate tests (it can be used only after consulting a doctor).

Injections of cortisone can reduce inflammation, and their effect extends even to the causative agents of allergic reactions. After the injection, the pain immediately recedes, but this drug is not an anesthetic. Painful sensations go away due to the removal of inflammation, which put pressure on the muscles. It has a lasting effect. After its administration, the action of the hormone can last several weeks. There are two types of cortisone injections: local and systemic. The first eliminates inflammation in a specific area of the body. It includes intraarticular and spinal injections (like epidural steroid injections). The second group is able to reduce inflammation in almost the entire body or on its extensive area. With the help of systemic injections, cortisone can help treat diseases that affect the condition of the whole body, as well as get rid of allergies.

How long does it take for cortisone shot to work?

Usually, cortisone injections give relief quite quickly, but not immediately. As a rule, you can expect relief in 3 to 5 days. According to a user’s feedback, “everyone responds differently”. One user of the Healingwell site wrote that his mother received shots of cortisone in the shoulder to treat bursitis. She experienced a significant relief within a day, whereas the user himself injected the drug into the hip and shoulder and suffered from an increase in pain within a week or two before the medication began to work.

If cortisone injections do not help the first time, the patient is usually recommended to switch to another, more effective medication. It should also be noted that now cortisone is being pushed out of the market by other more effective medicines from the group of corticosteroids.

How long does a cortisone shot stay in your system?

To determine how long cortisone can remain in your body, you need to familiarize yourself with such a concept as a half-life of drugs.

Half-life is the time during which the serum concentration of the substance (or its total content in the body) is halved. This is a very useful pharmacodynamic characteristic. Assume that after stopping intravenous drug administration, the concentration of the drug decreases by 50% after one half-life. After the second period, it decreases by another 25% (half of the remaining 50%), the total – 75% of the original. After three periods, it decreases by 87.5%> from the initial (75%> + half of the remaining 25%), and after four ones – by 94%. Consequently, after 4 half-lives, the initial concentration of the drug decreases to a minimum. In most cases, the half-elimination process involves the purification of the body by the kidneys and the liver, complete with the function of excretion and removal of matter from the body.

Some drugs have very short half-lives. For 2 ordinary tablets of aspirin or ibuprofen, the elimination half-life is approximately 4 hours. But some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as piroxicam have a half-life of approximately 24 hours.

As for cortisone, the half-life of this steroid drug is usually 8 to 12 hours. The exact time of complete elimination of the drug is unknown. It depends on many factors that we will discuss below.

If you use an injection of cortisone in the joint to get rid of the pain, the duration of the action depends on the type of cortisone administered and how long you rest after the injection.

By the way, we wrote earlier on how long do steroids stay in your system.

How long do cortisone injections last?


Cortisone by itself is not prescribed frequently by today’s healthcare professionals because it doesn’t last long enough.

According to the NetDoctor Medical Team, the question “how long do cortisone injections last” is equal to “how long is a piece of string”. The effect of the shot depends on several factors, such as:

  • The level of inflammation that is treated with cortisone. It should be noted that cortisone is more effective for acute and painful inflammation than for a prolonged and sluggish one.
  • Cause of inflammation. The causes of inflammation may be different. This can be, for example, trauma or degenerative joint disease.
  • The presence of the cause at a certain point. If the cause of inflammation does not exist any longer, the medication will act faster.
  • General health condition of the patient. A healthy organism will fight disease more quickly, so the medicine will act faster. For example, it is known that injuries in elderly people heal more slowly than in young people.

Therefore, according to the opinion of the NetDoctor Medical Team, the medicine may last from several hours to several months. Perhaps a patient will need just one cortisone shot to ease the condition. There are so many factors that can affect the duration of the drug. However, they note that it is not recommended to do many injections of cortisone. If the medicine gives only a short-term relief, it makes no sense to use it many times, as it can cause severe side effects of steroids.

It should also be noted that the effect of cortisone may be decreased under the influence of barbiturates, phenytoin, rifampicin and other inducers of liver enzymes. Therefore, if a patient has to take such medications, correction of the corticosteroid dosage is necessary.

More about our blog

On our website, you can find interesting articles about steroids including anabolic steroids, corticosteroids, estrogens and progesterone. You might be interested to know what is the best needle for steroid injection, what are steroids used for medically, how do steroids reduce inflammation, and much more. In addition, we have articles about athletes who used steroids (by which we mean anabolic steroids). Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Cook, Mark Wahlberg are only a small portion of the athletes we wrote about.

Information provided on this site cannot be used as an instruction for the use of any medication and as a replacement for a full-fledged medical consultation. This information has educational nature. Always consult a doctor before using any steroid medication.