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  • Writer's pictureDonna Gerard

As The Knee Bends: The Cortisone Shot

For Those Who Are Afraid of This Procedure

Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

I recoiled as I picked that photo. I am not a shot person. I hate blood tests. Let’s face it- I am averse to medical procedures in general. Despite my strong negative opinions, sometimes I have to roll with the punches. So I get my flu and covid vaccines. I sometimes need bloodwork. And I, since this is often a fact of aging, definitely need cortisone shots in my knees. Today. Now, in fact.

I’m back. The trauma of getting shots in my knees is 1% in the knees and 99% in my head. Here’s the entire procedure, start to finish:

  1. The doctor came in and lightly felt my left knee as I sat on the edge of the examining table with my feet hanging down. When he found the spot he was looking for (on the outside of the kneecap), he swabbed it with something brown. I am surmising that it’s Betadine and it’s purpose is to mark and sterilize the spot. No worries here.

  2. He picked up a glass bottle with a little nozzle. This is the numbing agent. He sprayed the knee with a very cold liquid. I could feel a cold liquid dripping down the outside of my calf. Still nothing to worry about. He wiped up any remaining liquid afterwards.

  3. Then he immediately injected the cortisone into my knee. I could feel a slight sensation that I could describe as a cross between pressure and warmth. By my estimate this phase lasted 10–15 seconds. I didn’t feel the needle enter or leave. I only knew it was over because I could feel him wiping off the outside of my knee.

  4. The procedure was repeated on my right knee.

  5. I was free to go. I felt no pain. My knees felt normal- not stiff or painful.

It’s now an hour and a half since the procedure and I still feel good. I don’t intend to do anything strenuous like lifting things or doing heavy housework. But I will walk around the house as normal and enjoy freedom from stiffness. I did some very light movement exercises while I was waiting for my lunch to heat up in the microwave.

I do have one caution. The doctor I am seeing now is not the same one I started out with. I switched doctors on the recommendation of a family member who had a terrible experience after his knee replacement. I had gotten a few cortisone shots from my former doctor. These were painful and he would never let me get shots in both knees. I had to come back if I wanted both knees done. It was only after coming to my current physician that I became aware that one can be numbed up for these shots. My new doctor seemed to be amazed that I didn’t know this. (And why didn’t they numb you??)

Here are my conclusions of the day:

  1. Getting shots in your knees for cortisone (or gels) is no big deal and it doesn’t hurt.

  2. Ask ahead of time if your doctor uses a numbing agent. If not, call someone else.

  3. Just as an extra tidbit, make your life easy by wearing shorts to your appointment.

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