Many people with an inflammatory condition such as osteoarthritis choose to treat their joint pain with a cortisone injection. If you’ve never received a cortisone injection before, you may be wondering how to care for the injection site and how much activity you can do after the procedure.
Mobility and flexibility exercises can be great for helping you recover from a cortisone shot in your knee. However, it is important to make sure that you resume exercise after your cortisone injection in your knee in a way that is safe. A physical therapist can design an exercise plan that will safely support your recovery. Continue reading to learn more about what physical therapists recommend for resuming exercise after a cortisone injection in the knee.
Side effects and risks of a cortisone injection in the knee
After receiving a cortisone injection in your knee, you should rest and monitor the area for at least 48 hours. It is important to keep an eye out for possible side effects and complications that may occur after the procedure.
Cortisone injections are used to reduce knee pain and inflammation. However, after your cortisone shot, you may notice an increase in pain and inflammation. This increase is temporary and can last up to 48 hours after the injection. After that, your symptoms should decrease. Cortisone injections should continue to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation for several months after the procedure.
Other possible side effects to monitor include:
- Facial flushing or redness.
- A feeling of warmth in the face and chest.
- A temporary increase in blood sugar.
- Darkening of the skin around the injection site.
- Hardening and dimpling of the skin around the injection site.
The possibility of seeing these side effects increases with larger doses and repeated cortisone injections. Frequent use of cortisone shots can also increase your risk for:
- Joint infection.
- Cartilage damage.
- Nerve damage.
- Thinning of the nearby bone.
- In severe cases, death of the nearby bone.
- Thinning of the skin and soft tissue around the injection site.
Most doctors will limit the number of cortisone injections in your knee. In general, you shouldn’t get a cortisone shot more than every six weeks and no more than three or four times a year.
When to resume exercise after a cortisone injection in the knee
For the first 48 hours after your cortisone injection in your knee, it is important to stay off your feet and rest whenever you can. After a day or two, you may resume light physical activity as tolerated. You can start to do gentle range-of-motion exercises 10 to 14 days after your cortisone injection in your knee. Four weeks after your cortisone shot, you can begin to incorporate strengthening exercises back into your routine.
Be sure to monitor your pain and inflammation as you begin to resume exercise after your cortisone injection in your knee. You can use cold packs to relieve any minor pain that may flare up while exercising. However, if your pain becomes severe, cease physical activity and schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor.
3 exercises you can do after a cortisone injection in the knee
When done safely, exercise can be a great way to maintain mobility in your knee after a cortisone injection. A physical therapist can work with you to design an exercise routine that will safely support your recovery after a cortisone shot in your knee.
Some exercises that a physical therapist may recommend for you include:
- Hamstring stretch — Start by standing in front of a chair. Place your right foot on the chair with your heel flat on the surface and toes pointed up. Slowly bend forward at the waist while keeping your back straight. Hold for 10 seconds before returning to standing. Alternate feet and repeat five to 10 times, or as tolerated.
- Quad Set — Start lying on your back with one leg straight and the other leg bent. Place a small towel or pillow under the knee of the leg that is straight. Press the back of your knee down into the towel to engage the muscle on the top of your thigh and hold for five seconds. Repeat for one to two sets of 10 repetitions. It is important to do this exercise on both legs to maintain symmetry and protect the unaffected side.
- Bridges — Start lying on your back with both legs bent and feet flat. Tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button toward the floor and then squeeze your glute muscles to lift your hips up in the air. Hold for one to two seconds and then slowly lower back down. Repeat for one to two sets of 10 repetitions. Tip: The focus is on engaging your glutes, so only lift as high as you can go without arching your back. If you have back pain with this exercise, stop and consult a PT for further guidance.
Have questions about caring for your knee after a cortisone injection? Contact Forever Fit PT today
Exercise can be a great way to support your recovery from a cortisone injection in your knee. However, it’s important to do so in a safe way that won’t cause pain or inflammation to return. Our team of physical therapists can help guide you through your recovery and answer any questions you may have about resuming exercise after a cortisone shot.
Contact one of our Forever Fit locations today for more information on exercise after a cortisone knee injection, or to schedule an appointment.