Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: How long can I keep getting cortisone shots in my knee?

Q. I've been getting cortisone injections in my knee for osteoarthritis every four months. What are the possible side effects, and how long can I continue this? I'm a strong 81-year-old.

A. Cortisone is a potent anti-inflammatory drug. When injected into the knee joint, it can help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. However, it's not usually considered a first-line or long-term treatment for osteoarthritis.

Before trying cortisone injections, most experts recommend oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) or topical analgesics (such as capsaicin). Other strategies include losing excess weight, which lessens stress on the knee joint, and exercise, which can strengthen the muscles supporting the knee. Padded shoes, canes, and walkers also help decrease the load on your knees when you walk.

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