Cortisone injections are extremely safe, but they do still have potential problems. If you are concerned about having a cortisone shot, talk with your doctor. While cortisone is a powerful treatment for many orthopedic conditions, there are usually other options that can also be tried. Many doctors will offer an injection as they are quick, easy, and most often effective. However, your doctor should also be able to offer other treatments for inflammation that may also be effective for those that cannot have, or don't want, a cortisone injection.
Radiculopathy occurs when something irritates a spinal nerve—say a “slipped disc” causing a pinched nerve. This is also called sciatica . There are resident stem and other cells in the local tissues everywhere in our body. Many live around blood vessels. These are obviously also present in the disc and nerves in the epidural space and they usually play an important role in suppressing inflammation and repairing damage. We know, based on a copious in vitro (lab) data, that the high-dose steroids used in epidural injections can kill these cells. So the progression of the series of epidural steroid injections looks a little something like this:
Steroid use disrupts the normal production of hormones in the body. Changes that can be reversed include decreased sperm production, 56–59 decreased function of the testes (hypogonadism) that leads to low testosterone levels, 60 and shrinking of the testicles (testicular atrophy). 56,61 Irreversible changes include male-pattern baldness and breast development (gynecomastia) in men. 59,62 Anabolic steroids may also act upon the hormone system to increase the risk of testicular cancer, especially when steroids are used in combination with insulin-like growth factor. 63